Masks are no longer required on the House floor for fully vaccinated individuals, after the Office of the Attending Physician released updated guidelines on Friday.
Fox News is told that the decrease in community transmission and the increase in the rate of vaccination triggered this decision.
The overall rate of vaccination for the Capitol complex is 85%, higher than that of the general public, Fox is told. Members who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask.
Members will also no longer vote in groups, and each vote will only last 20 minutes.
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Republicans had previously staged protests over the continued mask requirement, despite a change in Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on May 13 that said vaccinated individuals did not need to wear masks in most public settings.
Four GOP members were fined $500 each for refusing to wear a mask on the floor. Seven other fellow Republican members of Congress were issued warnings: Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas, Bob Good of Virginia, Mary Miller of Illinois and Louie Gohmert of Texas. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the next fine could be $2,500.
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Meanwhile, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., authored a resolution demanding the House comply with CDC guidelines and allow members to be unmasked on the floor and in committee hearings. The GOP-backed effort says the House “mask mandate sends the erroneous messages that the efficacy of the vaccines cannot be trusted.”
Meanwhile, there never was a mask rule in the Senate chamber.
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Monahan had stood by the House floor mask mandate as entirely consistent with CDC guidelines and “endorsed by an expert CDC panel,” Monahan wrote in a statement at the time. The House chamber mask requirement will remain unchanged “until all Members and floor staff are fully vaccinated,” he said.