The House of Representatives has reimposed its mask mandate after the Center for Disease and Control updated its guidance.
The story: House Attending Physician Brian Monahan announced that they’re reversing the previous policy in a letter to congressional staffers. Lawmakers and staff members in the House will have to wear a mask in the House chamber, all House office buildings, and committee meetings.
The exception to the mask mandate is if a lawmaker or a staffer is alone in a role, is actively speaking, or is asking for recognition from the chair at a committee hearing.
“For the Congress, representing a collection of individuals traveling weekly from various risk areas (both high and low rates of disease transmission), all individuals should wear a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask (for example an ear loop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space,” Monahan said in a letter sent to congressional staffers.
Monahan explained that the decision to once again require lawmakers and staff members to wear a mask comes in response to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s announcement Tuesday that the agency would again recommend masks for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Why it matters? The announcement from Monahan brings back the fines that the House had in place for lawmakers that refuse to comply with the mask mandate. Several Republicans were fined for violating this rule earlier this year.
“To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED. Failure to wear a mask in the Hall of the House is subject to fines imposed for violation as contained in the previous House rule,” Monahan wrote.
How we got here: The House dropped its longtime mask requirement six weeks ago. Since then, an aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has tested positive for the virus, despite being fully vaccinated, after meeting Texas Democrats to fled the state to break quorum.
Meanwhile, the White House Correspondent’s Association said it will also require reporters to wear masks while they are inside the White House, in light of CDC’s decision.
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