D.C. reinstates indoor mask mandate, mayor declares State of Emergency

The capital's most recent mask mandate had been lifted in late November

Updated: December 20, 2021 - 1:46pm

Mayor Muriel Bowser has reinstated Washington D.C.'s mask mandate and expanded the city's vaccine requirements as she declared a State of Emergency on Monday due to surging COVID-19 cases.

The mandate will go into effect at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, and is currently slated to run through Jan. 31. 

Bowser, a Democrat, also announced a six-part action plan to combat the surge, including expanding testing centers and free rapid COVID-19 testing kits for residents.

D.C. government employees will also be required to receive a COVID vaccination and booster shot and will no longer be given the alternate of partaking in frequent testing. 

Bowser is extending winter break across D.C. Public Schools until January 5, so that all students, teachers, and staff have enough time to take rapid tests prior to returning to classrooms. She said 100,000 Test Yourself Express rapid tests will be distributed to D.C. public and charter schools. 

Unlike other areas of the country, Omicron has not yet taken hold in the district. Bowser confirmed that most of Washington's COVID-19 infections are the Delta strain of the virus, and fewer than 1% are Omicron.