US capital to lift indoor Covid-19 mask mandate

People wear masks as they walk through Union Station in Washington, DC, in July 2021. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Residents of Washington will no longer be required to wear masks indoors as of next week, except in certain places like public transport and schools, the US capital's mayor said on Tuesday (Nov 16), as the city's coronavirus caseload levels off.

"Beginning Monday, November 22, DC will lift the current indoor mask mandate," Muriel Bowser announced on Twitter.

Private businesses can continue to make their own rules, she said, adding that masks would also still be mandatory in ride-share vehicles, libraries, nursing homes, prisons and some city government offices.

Washington had put the mask mandate in place in late July, for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, amid a surge in infections tied to the rise of the Delta variant.

The city has implemented relatively strict measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, as compared with other places in the United States.

However, the new guidance appears to be at odds with the standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC still considers Washington to be an area of "substantial" Covid-19 community transmission and suggests that everyone wear masks in "public, indoor settings."

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