D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during a Feb. 14 press conference on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during a Feb. 14 press conference. (WI File Photo)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser dealt District residents the decision they have long been waiting for. Effective Feb. 15, she removed the mandate requiring indoor venues to verify patrons are vaccinated. She went one step further. Beginning March 1, masks will only be needed for those businesses that require masks for their employees and customers.

Bowser’s announcement this week reportedly caught legislators off guard after announcing one month ago the requirement for “three things needed before heading out.” Proof of vaccination (12 years +), proof of vaccination and photo ID (18 years +) and masks and proof of vaccination for restaurant, cafe and bar patrons.

D.C. joins seven states to remove mask mandates this year, making it one of the last remaining states upholding the requirement. But politics continues to play a significant role in the mask debate. D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) announced Tuesday plans to introduce emergency legislation to reinstate the mask mandate. Along with At-Large Councilmembers Christina Henderson and Robert White, she was reportedly taken aback by Bowser’s surprise move. 

Politics aside, the CDC still recommends wearing masks. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has expressed her warning that this is not the moment to start relaxing restrictions. In D.C., infection rates and deaths are declining but the CDC doesn’t feel the decline is low enough to relax mask requirements and vaccines. People are still getting COVID-19 or the Omicron variant, and many continue to die from it, as well.

No matter what Bowser, the council or the CDC suggests, local residents will continue to do what they feel is necessary to keep themselves and their families safe. There’s no shame in their game to get vaccinated, declare it to those who ask and wear masks anywhere folks are gathered. They should continue to regularly wash their hands and keep a reasonable 6-feet distance from others.

There’s no doubt these mandates lead to confusion and the mixed signals result in a diminished view of a virus that has killed nearly 1 million people in the U.S. alone. We can only continue to urge readers to take every precaution to stay safe, including getting vaccinated and boosted and continuing to wear a mask. Do this for yourself and don’t be distracted by the bantering among politicians. With or without a mandate, COVID-19 is still here. Do what you feel you need to do to stay safe.

Did you like this story?
Would you like to receive articles like this in your inbox? Free!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *