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Some staff in the Capitol told to wear masks, but not lawmakers

Requirement issued through Architect of the Capitol’s internal network

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opted not to wear a mask last week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opted not to wear a mask last week. (CQ Roll Call)

The Architect of the Capitol is requiring staff to wear face coverings, but that mandate does not extend beyond the agency, meaning lawmakers and their aides are not subject to the directive.

The mask requirement was issued last week to the Architect of the Capitol’s internal network, according to Laura Condeluci, an agency spokesperson. She did not specify what date that directive was sent. On Thursday, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced all grocery store patrons must wear masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended — but has not required — wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing efforts are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

Staff covered by the mask order include maintenance and construction workers in the Capitol complex. Recommendations for lawmakers in the Capitol track that advice and guidance issued by the Office of Attending Physician, according to a Republican spokesperson for the House Administration Committee, the panel with oversight over the AOC.

“The guidance from the Attending Physician and the CDC has encouraged the wearing of facial coverings in public settings where social distancing of 6 feet or greater is impractical,” the spokesperson said. “Guidance has consistently been evolving throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and while this guidance is subject to change, this is current guidance from our healthcare professionals that has been communicated to employees.”

Some members of Congress, such as Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Virginia Democrat, have opted for using personal protective equipment while presiding over pro forma sessions.

Others, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have chosen not to wear a mask while in that chamber and elsewhere on Capitol Hill for pro forma sessions.

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