“The guideline document reflects that fully vaccinated individuals may discontinue mask wear and 6-foot social distance separations in most situations consistent with the CDC revision regarding fully vaccinated individuals of May 13, 2021,” Monahan wrote.
Mask-wearing and social distance policies remain in place for those who are not fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unclear, Monahan said.
“It is still possible to become infected with virus even after completing the vaccinations as an individual’s degree of protection may be incomplete due to age, failure to complete the full vaccination series, underlying medical conditions, use of certain medications, and passage of time since the vaccine was administered,” he noted.
Mask-wearing divided Americans throughout the 2020 election year, with former president Donald Trump rarely wearing a mask and President Biden always wearing one. The issue pitted Republicans against Democrats on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers calling each other out during hearings.
Republican lawmakers attracted significant attention last month when nearly a dozen of them removed their masks on the House floor in protest of lasting restrictions after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened the guidelines. At least three received $500 fines for their second offense for violating the House rules. The fines — which go up to $2,500 — were automatically taken out of lawmakers’ paychecks.
Republicans forced the issue last month, with the House rejecting a move to relax guidelines on the wearing of face masks in the chamber. Democrats argued that if lawmakers want to be maskless, they need to be vaccinated. The vote played out largely along party lines, with 218 members voting to reject the measure and 210 voting to proceed.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was widely criticized by those on both sides of the aisle last month after comparing the Capitol’s coronavirus restrictions to what Jewish people endured during the Holocaust.
“We can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens — so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany, and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about,” the lawmaker said on Real America’s Voice network’s “The Water Cooler with David Brody,” a conservative show.
Many liberal lawmakers — a group that had largely been vaccinated — supported the rules remaining in place as long as some of their colleagues across the aisle continued to participate in activities that medical professionals deemed risky.
The revision is in response to the “considerable rate of vaccination participation” as well as a decline in daily evidence of the impact of coronavirus. Around half of Americans have received at least one injection, the document notes.
“Congressional community vaccination rates are generally much higher but vary between Offices and Agencies,” the revised guidelines note.
Gatherings in the complex — a common occurrence on Capitol Hill that went on pause during the coronavirus pandemic — are now permitted with caveats.
“Interior space gatherings of a social nature may now be resumed while allowing for accommodations of the non-fully-vaccinated to participate with required mask wear and social distance separations,” the memo states.
The new guidelines are detailed for staff in different parts of the Capitol complex and include information about how a mask should be worn. They also include updates for staffers as well as those visiting the building.
“Scheduled official visitors who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear masks, fully vaccinated scheduled official visitors are not required to wear a mask in interior space,” the guidelines state.