Here's Where Masks and Vaccines Are Required or Recommended in the DC Area


  • As the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads, localities in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as well as the federal government, are considering new recommendations and mandates to curb the virus.
  • New CDC mask guidance says face coverings should be worn in areas "with substantial and high transmission" of COVID-19, which includes parts of the D.C. area.
  • President Joe Biden is expected to announce that millions of federal workers must show proof they’ve received a coronavirus vaccine or submit to regular testing and other requirements.

A troubling rise in COVID-19 cases and new information on the spread of the delta variant are prompting changes across the country on where face masks and vaccines are recommended and required. 

In new guidance this week, federal health officials recommended face masks indoors — including for people who are vaccinated — in parts of the country with high or substantial transmission of the virus, measured by new cases and positivity rates. Masks are recommended inside schools.

Masks will be required indoors in D.C. for all people over 2 starting at 5 a.m. Saturday, July 31, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced at a news conference Thursday. Additionally, officials are working to create a vaccination requirement for D.C. government employees. 

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam recommended that all Virginians wear masks where there is high risk of COVID-19. He did not set a requirement. Go here for more info.

Here’s a city-by-city, county-by-county look at changes in the D.C. area. 

The CDC recommends masks in D.C. and a few counties in Virginia.

The CDC’s color-coded system designates jurisdictions as having low (blue), moderate (yellow), substantial (orange) or high (red) community transmission. Masks are recommended indoors, even for people who are vaccinated, in places with substantial or high transmission. 

Here's Where Masks and Vaccines Are Required or Recommended in the DC Area
This map from the CDC designates levels of community transmission of COVID-19 as of Thursday, July 29, 2021.

Here are the designations as of Thursday: 

High (Red) Page CountySpotsylvania County 

Warren County

Substantial (Orange) D.C. Frederick County, VirginiaLoudoun County 

Stafford County 

Moderate (Yellow) All of Maryland 

The remainder of Virginia counties in the D.C. area

Go here to see the full CDC map.

Hoping to set a model for employers nationwide, President Joe Biden is expected to announce Thursday that millions of federal workers must show proof they’ve received a coronavirus vaccine or submit to regular testing and stringent social distancing, masking and travel restrictions.

An individual familiar with the president's plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm details that had yet to be announced publicly, emphasized that the new guidance is not a vaccine mandate for federal employees and that those who decide not to get vaccinated aren’t at risk of being fired. Go here for more info

Masks will be required indoors in D.C. for all people over 2 starting at 5 a.m. Saturday, July 31, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced at a news conference Thursday.

D.C. reinstated the mandate after the CDC said D.C. has "substantial" community transmission.

D.C. strongly encourages vaccinations. 

“If you are eligible to be vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to do so immediately to minimize the risk of disease, hospitalization, or death,” Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said in a statement Tuesday. 

D.C. Public Schools: Masks will be required this fall. 

Smithsonian Museums: The Smithsonian will require all visitors over age 2 to wear masks in indoor spaces and museums, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. The policy is set to take effect Friday. Ten Smithsonian museums plus the National Zoo are open to the public in D.C.

Charles County: Beginning Friday, Charles County Public Schools will require masks at all schools, centers, buildings and facilities regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required on CCPS transportation.

Frederick County: Masks will be required inside schools this fall. They will not be required outdoors but people who are not vaccinated are encouraged to wear them. 

Montgomery County: Face masks will be required for students and staff inside Montgomery County Public Schools this fall regardless of vaccination status. The school board said they endorsed the interim superintendent’s decision in order to protect students and staff. 

Prince George’s County: Masks will be required for students, teachers and staff inside Prince George’s County Public Schools this fall. Schools CEO Monica Goldson said the vaccination rate among eligible students is still too low, at 50%. 

Spotsylvania County: The school board voted 6-1 to strongly urge students in all grades to wear masks this fall. However, parents can submit opt-out forms if they prefer for their child to not wear a mask. 

School districts in Northern Virginia are taking different approaches to mask guidelines. News4's Julie Carey reports.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam recommends that all Virginians wear masks where there is high risk of COVID-19. The governor did not set a requirement. Go here for more info.

Alexandria: The City of Alexandria recommends vaccinations and masks indoors as officials track substantial community transmission of the virus. 

It’s unclear whether masks will be required in schools this fall. 

Fairfax County: Fairfax County Public Schools will require masks for everyone inside schools whenever students are present, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will not be required outdoors.

Fairfax County officials took a step on Tuesday toward requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for most county workers. The vaccination mandate would be one of the first of its kind in the D.C. area. 

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in support of requiring all county employees to be fully vaccinated before returning to in-person work. The decision affecting more than 12,000 county workers is ultimately up to the county executive. Go here for more info. 

Frederick County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "substantial" community transmission, as of Thursday. 

Loudoun County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "substantial" community transmission, as of Thursday. 

Page County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid “high” community transmission, as of Thursday. 

Spotsylvania County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid “high” community transmission, as of Thursday. 

Stafford County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "substantial" community transmission, as of Thursday. 

Warren County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid “high” community transmission, as of Thursday.