Unvaccinated People Are No Longer Barred From Here, Starting Today
Restrictions are being lifted as COVID numbers continue to fall.
The U.S. entered 2022 experiencing a barrage of new COVID cases brought on by the highly infectious Omicron variant. But as we make our way through February, things are already looking substantially better. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), new daily infections have fallen by 42.8 percent over the last week and new hospital admissions are down by 25.4 percent. Now that we're exiting the tumultuous Omicron surge, some local officials are taking this opportunity to pull back COVID restrictions that were put in place to bring numbers down.
On Feb. 14, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced that she would be dropping the city's vaccine mandate as the virus' spread is falling, The Washington Post reported. People in the nation's capital have been required to show proof of vaccination at most businesses—including restaurants, bars, gyms, and movie theaters—in the city since Jan. 15.
These places of business are no longer required to make patrons show their vaccination information before entering, as of Feb. 15. But not everywhere you go in Washington, D.C., will get rid of their restrictions. "Businesses may choose to keep vaccination requirements in place," the mayor's official website notes.
COVID cases in D.C. have decreased by 90 percent since they peaked during the Omicron surge and hospitalizations have gone down by 95 percent as well. "We're in a much better place now to announce adjustments to that winter plan," Bowser said during a press conference on Feb. 14, per The GW Hatchet.
Both Bowser and D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said that the city's vaccine mandate had also been lifted because it had already achieved its desired effect. According to The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., administered over 50,000 vaccinations within three weeks of the vaccine requirement's announcement in late December, half of which were first or second does. Now, more than 93 percent of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
"We also know that people who have been vaccinated and others are wanting to get back to their normal lives and know what they need to do to keep themselves safe," Bowser said.
D.C. is not the only city that has reversed its vaccine requirements in the past week. On Feb. 10, Minnesota's Twin Cities Mayors Melvin Carter and Jacob Frey made a joint statement announcing the immediate repeal of their vaccine mandates for restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues in the two cities, as reported by the Star Tribune. Similar to Washington, D.C., people in Minneapolis and Saint Paul had been required to show proof of vaccination to enter these spaces since Jan. 2022.
"We always want to try and be as least invasive as possible when we're coming from a public health perspective," Minneapolis interim Health Commissioner Heidi Ritchie told the Star Tribune. "At this point with the transmission rates dropping the way that they are, the hospitalization rates not as precarious as they were, we're comfortable pulling that more invasive regulation backwards."