The US House reinstated its mask mandate after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its new guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
“For all House Office Buildings, the Hall of the House, and House Committee Meeting, wearing of a well-fitted, medical-grade, filtration face mask is required when an individual is in an interior space and other individuals are present,” Dr. Brian Monahan wrote in a memo.
Whoever enters the chamber or meeting spaces will have to wear a mask. Violators will be subject to fines.
“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 earloop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space,” Monahan wrote.
Republican leaders were quick to criticize the mask mandate.
“Make no mistake— The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Tuesday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House Minority Leader a moron when reporters asked her about McCarthy’s criticism.
The CDC recommends that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in high transmission areas. The agency is also advising students, teachers, and school faculty members to wear masks in the fall.
The House first instituted a requirement to wear masks a year ago because dozens of GOP lawmakers refused to voluntarily comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations that everyone wear masks, at a time when vaccines were not yet available.
House Democrats later established fines — $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for a subsequent offense — to enforce compliance in January after some Republicans kept declining to wear masks.