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Bowser reinstates indoor mask mandate as cases surge throughout D.C.

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Updated: Dec. 20, 2021 at 4:42 p.m.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday she is reinstating D.C.’s indoor mask mandate after she dropped the requirement last month.

The mandate, which goes into effect Tuesday at 6 a.m., comes after D.C. recorded a single-day case record of 844 new positive COVID-19 cases on Friday, as officials grapple with the spread of the Omicron variant. Bowser also announced D.C. employees will be required to be fully vaccinated and receive the booster shot with no test-out option.

“I think we are all tired of it – I am tired of it, too – but we have to respond to what’s happening in our city and what’s happening in our nation,” Bowser said at a press conference Monday.

Bowser lifted the mask mandate early last month for most indoor settings, but DC Health later recommended that all people continue to wear masks indoors when in public. Bowser had refrained from reinstating a blanket mandate following the health advisory.

The D.C. government will work with labor partners on specific vaccination deadlines, Bowser said Monday.

“Also pay attention to your social settings and your family environments and private homes where we frequently let our guard down,” she said.

Bowser said she is extending winter break for D.C. Public Schools until Jan. 5 to allow students and staff enough time to get tested before classes resume. Schools will receive enough tests for each student, teacher and staff member, she said.

GW has not yet made any changes to its spring semester but moved the end of fall exams online amid a rise in cases. Officials will provide students with campus access for the first two days of classes before requiring them to receive a test.

Bowser also said DC Health is launching a new program to provide free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests starting Dec. 22. She said the District has ordered more than 1 million test kits for the program, and they will be available at eight locations throughout the District.

City officials also announced nine new locations for residents to drop off free PCR tests provided by the District, bringing the total number of sites to 36.

GW hit a record single-day high of 103 new positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. University officials have not updated the COVID-19 dashboard since last Wednesday, when they recorded 42 new positive cases of COVID-19.

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