Washington, D.C., Mandates Masks as Virus Cases Rise in Capital

(Bloomberg) -- The mayor of Washington, D. C., on Thursday ordered all residents and visitors to wear masks indoors, the same day President Joe Biden announced new protective measures for federal workers who make up a large portion of the city’s population.

“People over the age of 2 must wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference. “I know that D. C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines and they will embrace it. Our businesses will embrace it.”

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The announcement comes as the city has seen a five-fold increase in the daily case rate since the beginning of July.

Cities and states around the country are beginning to order new requirements as vaccination rates stall and the highly contagious delta variant surges among unvaccinated people. California and New York have both instituted protective measures and a number of private companies, from automakers to New York City’s top restaurants, are requiring some proof of vaccination for access to workplaces or dining.

Across the Potomac River from Washington, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam Thursday announced that residents “should consider” wearing a mask in public indoor spaces.

The Biden administration will require federal workers to prove they’re vaccinated against Covid-19 or wear masks and submit to frequent coronavirus testing. The standard will apply to federal contractors and Biden’s team will encourage private sector employers to follow similar standards.

Nearly 73% of District of Columbia residents are partly or fully vaccinated and 62.7% are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Bowser also announced incentives for young people to get their shots, including gift cards and Apple airpods.

(Updates with Biden announcement, in sixth paragraph)

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