White House ends mask mandate for vaccinated
The White House is ending a mask requirement for employees who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a White House spokesman confirmed to The Hill.
NBC News first reported Monday that the White House would end its mask requirement for fully-vaccinated employees beginning Tuesday.
The decision came three days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) significantly eased its recommendations for mask use. Under the new guidelines, over 70 percent of Americans are in an area of “low” or “medium” risk for COVID-19 transmission and do not need to wear masks.This includes Washington, D.C., where an indoor mask mandate expires on Tuesday.
Prior to the announcement, the Biden administration had been under pressure from governors and some in the public health community to release updated mask guidance, as coronavirus cases fell and the omicron wave subsided.
A number of governors, both Republican and Democratic, have moved to end mask mandates for businesses or other gathering spaces, like schools, in recent weeks as COVID-19 cases have declined.
The White House’s move follows similar actions in Washington. The U.S. Capitol’s attending physician said Sunday that masks would be optional in the halls of Congress beginning Monday.
President Biden is set to deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday. The address will give him the opportunity to chart a path forward for the public out of the pandemic, at a time when Americans are frustrated by the lingering impacts of the virus and seeking a return to some form of normal life.
It was not immediately clear whether the White House would also instruct federal agencies to lift indoor mask requirements for federal workers and contractors.
In an email to journalists later Monday, the White House Correspondents’ Association said that reporters would no longer be required to wear masks indoors at the White House given the new guidance.
Biden signed an executive order last fall requiring federal government employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they are granted a religious or medical exemption.
–Updated at 5:36 p.m.