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Smithsonian to require all visitors to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status

The change follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WASHINGTON — Almost exactly a month after Smithsonian museums stopped requiring masks for fully vaccinated people, the institution said masks will be required for all visitors in indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status beginning Friday, July 30. 

Fully vaccinated visitors will not be required to wear a mask in outdoor areas at the National Zoo and the Smithsonian’s outdoor gardens but must wear a mask to visit indoor areas, including restrooms, Smithsonian Public Affairs Officer Madeleine Weyand-Geise said in an email Thursday.

The change follows the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in areas of substantial transmission rates of COVID-19.

The Smithsonian began a gradual reopening of its museums in may, and had stopped requiring masks be worn indoors on June 28.

On Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said even vaccinated people should return to wearing masks indoors in areas with substantial or high amounts of community transmission of COVID-19.  

Substantial transmission means there's been 50-100 cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period and high transmission means an area has seen more than 100 cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period, Walensky explained.

Loudoun, Virginia and the District were both upgraded Wednesday to "substantial" classification.

The Smithsonian pointed out masks would be required regardless of D.C.'s specific classification because visitors come from around the world.

RELATED: CDC recommends masks indoors for DC, Loudoun residents regardless of vaccination status

RELATED: No more timed-entry passes at most museums, Smithsonian announces

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