Food  |  News & Politics

NYC Will Require Vaccinations for Restaurants, Gyms, and Other Indoor Venues. Is DC Next?

Mayor Muriel Bowser addressed the possibility—along with controversial photos of her maskless at a wedding.

Mayor Muriel Bowser addresses questions about potential vaccine requirements and mask mandates at a press conference intended for the opening of Ben's Chili Bowl at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that people will be required to show proof of vaccination for restaurants, gyms, entertainment facilities, and other indoor venues as of August 16, with enforcement beginning September 13. Could DC follow suit? So far, Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she will look into it, but is non-committal about the possibility.

“I’m going to read all about it, see what they’re going to do,” Bowser said in a press conference intended for the opening of Ben’s Chili Bowl at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center today. “I think that we are entering a different and new phase of this pandemic—a phase, unfortunately, that we hoped to avoid by more people getting vaccinated earlier so the virus didn’t mutate… I can assure you that the District is going to evaluate anything that works for DC. As this thing evolves… the public health guidance changes and we will evolve too.”

Meanwhile, Bowser became clearly irritated when a reporter asked about controversy surrounding maskless photos of her at a wedding over the weekend, after her indoor mask mandate went into effect. “I’ll take my mask off,” Bowser said, ripping off her face covering to address the question. “Let me clear something up, because if you want to report on the right-wing nuts, have at it. But I’m not going to give it a lot of energy.”

Some photos that circulated on social media show the Mayor officiating an outdoor ceremony on the rooftop of the Line hotel. “The right-wingers, you know what they said? I officiated a wedding indoors—already a lie from the top,” Bowser said.

Other photos, published by the Washington Examiner, show Bowser maskless indoors. The Examiner claimed the Mayor “did not wear a mask despite not actively eating or drinking.” However, Bowser says the photos were taken while she was seated for dinner. “We all know what the rule says about sitting at a dining table and dining. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Did they show you the whole time I was there? No. Did they show you when I had on my mask? No,” Bowser continued. “They’re trying, after many months of telling people not to get vaccinated, to also now say that they shouldn’t be masked or that, very falsely, that we’re not having weddings, parties, or events in DC.”

Bowser says she did see others at the wedding not wearing masks indoors: “They should have had their masks on.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.