By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
mgreen@afro.com

Despite restaurants, bars and shopping centers beginning to reopen, coronavirus is still in the nation’s capital, and Mayor Muriel Bowser has implemented orders effective immediately to slow and prevent the further spread of this pandemic. With more than 11,850 residents testing positive for COVID-19, and counting, Washingtonians must now wear a mask at all times while outside their homes and those traveling from “high-risk states” must quarantine for 14 days.   

On July 22, Bowser implemented the mask order in her daily press briefing.

“If you leave home, you should wear a mask.”  The mayor’s order lays out some exceptions.  Common ones are for children under the age of three, if you’re vigorously exercising, if you are actively eating or drinking, or if you’re in an enclose office alone and no one else will be coming in.  “But in most cases, if you’re outside of your house, you should have a mask on,” Bowser said before giving clear examples of when to wear masks.

“This means if you’re waiting for a bus, you must have on a mask.  If you are ordering food from 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,” Bowser said.

“We know that masks are an effective tool in helping us stop the spread of the virus,” Bowser said.

Per the Mayor’s order, those without a mask are subject to penalties.

“Any individual or entity that knowingly violates this Order may be subject to civil and administrative penalties authorized by law, including sanctions or penalties for violating D.C. Official Code 7-2307, including civil fines or summary suspension or revocation of licenses,” according to the Mayor’s Order.

Emphasizing the mask requirement even further, the mayor wrote on Twitter days later, “Friends don’t let friends forget their masks. Share with a friend that needs a reminder.  Mask on, DC.”

On July 27, Bowser implemented the high-risk travel rule, requiring those traveling from more than 25 states to quarantine for two weeks “from their arrival in the District.”  

The list includes: Arkansas, Arizona, Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.  

While other locales may also consider Maryland and Virginia high-risk areas, Bowser said the two states are exempt considering its proximity to the District and its inclusion as part of the D.M.V.

“Travel to and from Maryland and Virginia is exempt from the Order.  This list should be used until Monday, August 10, when an updated list will be posted on coronavirus.dc.gov,” the Mayor Tweeted.

Many social media users were disappointed by the Mayor’s new order.

Jon Penndorf (@SnarkitectDC) wrote: “Sorry but the logic here does not compute.  Wholesale bans on states which have specific hotspots provides no guidance on where is truly safe.  County-by-county would make more sense.  Does this mean it’s safe to go to Ocean City, but not Dewey Beach, ?  Mere miles apart?”

While some didn’t agree with the Mayor’s order on traveling, others think she is being too lenient and should tighten up restrictions.

“That’s great, Mayor, now please ban indoor dining before D.C.’s rising caseloads get out of hand,” Twitter User Adam Twardowski (@TwardowskiDC) wrote.

Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor