DC brings back indoor mask mandate starting Saturday

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserDC police accused of racial, sex discrimination The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden meets with lawmakers amid domestic agenda panic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in MORE announced Thursday that masks will once again be required indoors in the city beginning Saturday, regardless of coronavirus vaccination status.

The move, which applies to anyone over the age of 2, comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week updated its mask guidance to recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in public places in areas with high COVID-19 transmission.

D.C. currently has enough transmission to fall under that guidance.

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"Things have changed throughout the course of [the pandemic], and we have to adapt, too," Bowser said at a news conference.

"I think it won't be a big lift for a lot of folks," she added, noting some people had never stopped wearing a mask indoors.

There is an exception for people who are actively eating at a restaurant, Bowser said, and there are no social distancing requirements that go along with the mask order.

The CDC's move this week was based on new data showing that vaccinated people could in some instances still transmit the virus on to others, even if they themselves are overwhelmingly protected against severe illness.

It is up to localities and states to decide if they will follow the CDC's advice, leaving a patchwork across the country as many Republican-led states dig in against the move. Many of the areas with the highest rates of transmission and lowest of vaccination are also among the most resistant to mask mandates.