The U.S. House of Representatives is reimposing a mask mandate after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) again altered its COVID-19-related guidance telling fully vaccinated people to wear masks in some indoor areas.
In a memo issued late Tuesday, Brian Monahan, the Capitol’s attending physician, said that masks will once again be required on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“For all House Office Buildings, the Hall of the House, and House Committee Meetings, 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. To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED,” Monahan said.
The mask mandate was initially put in place at the start of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic last year by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who ruled that all members and aides must wear masks in the halls of the House except when they are speaking.
However, the mask requirement was lifted last month when the CDC updated its guidance to state that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, were generally no longer required to wear masks or social distance.
Previous guidance from the CDC had recommended that people wear masks if they were within six feet of others outside, regardless of their vaccination status.
In yet another reversal, the CDC said Tuesday that fully vaccinated individuals in areas with “substantial and high transmission” of COVID-19 should wear masks indoors in some areas, including schools, citing new research into outbreaks from several states and other countries.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Tuesday research indicates that “on rare occasions some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others.”
Fully vaccinated individuals who contract the Delta variant have the same viral load as people who are unvaccinated, Walensky said, noting that the variant can be transmitted by vaccinated people.
“This new science is worrisome and warrants an update to our recommendations,” Walensky said.
Monahan in his memo warned that violators of the House’s mask mandate will be fined.
“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 ear loop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space,” Monahan wrote.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) criticized the move on Tuesday night, arguing on Twitter that it is a decision “conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.”
It comes as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), announced that they are suing Pelosi after they were fined $500 each for not wearing masks on the House floor in May.
The lawmakers said at the time that the face coverings are “oppressive” and “nothing but a political tool.”
Pelosi’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.