Bowser issued an order late Friday night that would have shed most mask requirements for fully vaccinated individuals, including allowing them to enter a business without wearing a mask. The order would have allowed people to gather in small groups inside without a mask unless someone in attendance was at an increased risk for COVID-19.
A new order Saturday night, however, amended the previous order, instead only dropping restrictions for outdoor gatherings: Any gatherings indoors will require a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
Businesses may also ask for vaccination status of any individual entering, according to FOX 5 DC.
“I think that the law is pretty clear that folks can ask about vaccination,” Bowser told reporters when asked for clarification Saturday. “If they are a public-serving facility, however, then they have to be open to the public. The mask mandate applies to private business.”
The contradictory orders have left business owners baffled as to how they should operate going forward.
“We are very confused as to what we can do and what we can’t do,” Mark Bucher, co-founder of restaurant chain Medium Rare, told the Washington Post. “That can be a case of the right hand not talking to the left hand, but it isn’t easy for us to distill the tea leaves.”
The city’s website currently says that “businesses and other institutions are authorized to request to see someone’s vaccine card or other adequate proof of vaccination, consistent with any applicable federal or local law.”
The new orders could pave the way for vaccine passports, which could allow individuals who can prove they are fully vaccinated to go maskless indoors.