D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser lifted the indoor mask mandate on Nov. 16, but a message to the Georgetown community from Provost Robert Groves released the same day stated that the university’s mandate will remain in place until at least the end of the fall semester, regardless of students’ vaccination status.
Bowser’s guidance, which took effect the following week, has some exceptions. For instance, masks will still be required on public transportation, in government facilities, and in congregate facilities such as residential buildings.
The mayor’s announcement received criticism from members of the D.C. community, including ten members of the D.C. Council, who sent a letter to the mayor urging her to reverse the decision. They cited the continued risks COVID-19 poses for young children, who are just beginning to get vaccinated, higher rates of travel for the upcoming winter holidays, and inconsistent business mask-compliance policies as their motivation to keep the mandate. Though above the national average, the District has still only fully vaccinated 63.5 percent of residents.
“To date, the District, under our collective leadership, has been appropriately thoughtful, careful, and protective of our residents—this approach should continue,” the letter read. “We implore you to pause your plan to drop the mask mandate and follow federal guidance when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation and masking.” Despite this, the mayor has maintained her position.
Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed his views on D.C.’s lifted mandate on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” “Masks are not going to be forever for sure. The more people that get vaccinated, the more people that get boosted, the lower the level of infection in the community will be, and then you start thinking about pulling back on masks,” Fauci said of the mayor’s decision.