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Washington, D.C., to end COVID-19 mask mandate, indoor vaccine rule

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Washington, D.C., to end COVID-19 mask mandate, indoor vaccine rule
An emergency measure that has required proof of vaccination for indoor venues in Washington, D.C., will be lifted on Tuesday, Mayor Muriel Bowser said. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Washington, D.C., will soon drop its indoor COVID-19 mask mandate and businesses' requirement for proof of vaccination, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday.

In a COVID-19 situational briefing, Bowser cited improving pandemic metrics for eliminating the requirements, which were instituted in December in response to a surge of new cases caused by the Omicron variant.

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"Since the height of the Omicron wave in D.C., cases have dropped by more than 90% and there's been a 95% reduction in hospitalizations," Bowser said. "We're in a much better place now to announce adjustments to that winter action plan."

Bowser's actions mirror similar moves made by several other state and local jurisdictions recently following improving COVID-19 numbers. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

The mayor said that the indoor mask mandate be allowed to expire on Feb. 28 and it will not be renewed -- meaning that masks will no longer be required at restaurants, bars, sporting events, gyms, churches, retail businesses and elsewhere starting March 1.

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If businesses want to maintain a mask requirement, they can. Face coverings will also remain mandatory at schools, libraries, public transit, healthcare facilities and select other locations.

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Another emergency measure that has required proof of vaccination for indoor venues will be lifted Tuesday, Bowser said.

The mayor's actions mirror similar moves made by several other state and local jurisdictions recently following improving COVID-19 numbers.

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New York, Illinois and Massachusetts all announced plans to ease mask mandates on Wednesday -- while in California, eight of the San Francisco Bay Area's nine counties announced they would follow a state government decision dropping universal indoor mask mandates beginning this week.

RELATED S.F. Bay Area counties follow state move, will drop indoor mask rules

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