Coronavirus: Smithsonian requiring masks indoors in museums, zoo

WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian Institution announced Thursday that all visitors -- even people who are vaccinated -- must wear masks at indoor venues at its museums and at the National Zoo.

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The mandate will go into effect beginning Friday, The Washington Post reported. The mask mandate will include every person over the age of 2 years old.

Fully vaccinated people will not be required to wear masks in outdoor areas, officials said. However, all zoo visitors must wear masks indoors, including in restrooms, according to WTTG.

“This change follows the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in areas of substantial transmission rates of COVID-19,” museum officials said in a statement. “The Smithsonian welcomes visitors from all over the globe, and will require masks to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors at its locations in the Washington, D.C. area and in New York City.”

The decision is a reversal from the Smithsonian’s announcement last month that vaccinated visitors did not need to wear masks indoors, the Post reported.

>> Return of masks: Walt Disney World, Disneyland will require masks for guests starting Friday

The move is in line with Thursday’s announcement by District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, who announced the same protocols at a news conference, WRC-TV reported. The only difference is that the mask mandate will begin in the district at 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, the television station reported.

The policy changes follow new guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommend the wearing of masks indoors as coronavirus rates are spiking nationwide.

The Smithsonian’s action also mirrors those of Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, which announced late Wednesday that masks could be required indoors for all patrons at the parks.

In addition, gamblers who flock to the Las Vegas Strip will be required to wear masks inside casinos as part of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s ruling that 12 of the state’s counties must wear face coverings.

>> Coronavirus: Las Vegas to require masks for all people indoors

The Smithsonian, which has several major museums in downtown Washington along with the National Zoo, typically attracts more than 28 million visitors a year, the Post reported.

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