House physician lifts COVID mask mandate in chamber ahead of Biden's State of Union speech

Change follows CDC on Friday easing its mask recommendation

Updated: February 28, 2022 - 10:11am

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The House over the weekend lifted its COVID-19 mask mandate, ahead of President Biden's State of the Union on Tuesday night in House chambers before a joint session of Congress.

The change, which makes masks optional, was announced Sunday by Capitol Physician Brian Monahan.

"Individuals may choose to mask at any time, but it is no longer a requirement," he said in a letter to lawmakers, who are returning Monday to Capitol Hill. 

However, other "coronavirus risk reduction measures" will remain in place for the address, according to The Hill newspaper

The doctor cited positive virus test rates at the Capitol down to 2.7% over the past two weeks.

His decision follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday easing its mask recommendation for people in the U.S. living in communities with "low" or "medium" COVID levels.