DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a new executive order requiring residents to wear masks outside of their homes on Wednesday, July 22, in the face of a recent spike in new infections of coronavirus.
Violators may have to pay fines of up to $1,000. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is authorized to enforce the new rules. However, no one under the age of 18 will be charged with a violation.
The expanded order followed warnings from DC Health Director Laquandra Nesbitt, who announced that two-thirds of new coronavirus cases in July affected people younger than 40.
The District reported 102 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, which was the highest increase in a single day since June 4. The total number of cases in the city surpassed 11,500.
“Basically what it says is, if you leave home, you should wear a mask,” Bowser said about the decision. “This means, if you’re waiting for a bus, you must have on a mask. If you are ordering food at a restaurant, you must have on a mask. If you’re sitting in a cubicle in an open office, you must have on a mask.”
Cloth face coverings, 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, are accepted.
“Wearing masks when social distancing is impossible to maintain can reduce the spread of the disease dramatically,” according to Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the DC Department of Health, the Mayor’s Office noted in its statement.
Exceptions to the new order that will remain in place until October 9 include:
- 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.