Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, DC, issued an order on Wednesday mandating everyone above the age of two in the nation’s capital to wear masks upon leaving their homes “if they are likely to come into contact with another person for more than a fleeting moment.” Those found to be in violation of the order can be fined up to $1,000.
Effective immediately, the language of the mayor’s decree references the “COVID-19 public health emergency” and reads as follows:
Under the new Mayor’s Order on masks, people must wear a mask when they leave their homes if they are likely to come into contact with another person for more than a fleeting moment. Exceptions are listed in the Mayor’s Order, and common exceptions include: children under the age of three; a person who is in an enclosed office that no one else is allowed to enter; a person who is actively eating or drinking; and a person who is engaged in vigorous outdoor exercise and is maintaining social distance of at least six feet from other people.
The mayor’s order defines masks as including “cloth face coverings, such as homemade cloth masks, store-bought fabric masks, bandanas or other cloth wrapped around the head that covers the mouth and nose, as well as medical or surgical masks.”
The Metropolitan Police Department is authorized to enforce the mask-wearing mandate, with exceptions offered to minors. The order states, “No youth under eighteen (18) years of age shall be charged with a violation.”
6/ Lastly, it’s simple: Wear a mask. Save lives. Stop the spread. pic.twitter.com/hLotrKzOGe
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) July 22, 2020
The Washington Post reported that some D.C. City Council members considered further restrictions:
Several D.C. Council members praised the mask mandate during a call Wednesday, while questioning how it would be enforced. There also were questions about whether the city should do more to combat the rising spread of the virus, such as prohibiting indoor restaurant dining or requiring people who visited certain areas to quarantine.
In addition to the mask requirement, the city is stepping up enforcement at establishments with liquor licenses, which are allowed to serve alcohol only at tables six feet apart. Four have been fined, and city inspectors will be authorized to issue fines on the spot going forward, Bowser said.
The mask mandate includes the following exceptions for people not to wear a mask outside of their homes:
a. A person is a resident or guest in a private home or apartment;
b. A person is actually eating, drinking, or legally smoking;
c. A person is engaged in vigorous outdoor exercise and is maintaining social distance of at least six (6) feet from each other person;
d. A person is in the water at a swimming pool;
e. A person is in an enclosed office that no one else is permitted to enter;
f. A person is aged two (2) years old or younger;
g. A person is unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability, or is physically unable to remove a mask;
h. A person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker;
i. A deaf or hard of hearing person needs to read the lips of a speaker;
j. The equipment required for a job precludes the wearing of a mask and the person is wearing that equipment, or when wearing a mask would endanger public safety;
k. A person has been lawfully asked to remove the mask for facial recognition purposes.
Bowser’s edict may expire on October 9, 2020, or later if she decides not to terminate the “state of emergency” she declared on March 11.
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