Congressional aides and visitors on the House side of the Capitol complex will be arrested if they do not wear masks. Following guidance from the Capitol physician, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger and his colleagues will enforce the measure moving forward.
"If a visitor or staff member fails to wear a mask after a request is made to do so, the visitor or staff shall be denied entry to the House Office Buildings or House-side of the U.S. Capitol," Manger wrote in a letter.
"Any person who fails to either comply or leave the premises after being asked to do so would be subject to an arrest for Unlawful Entry."
At this time, Manger and his fellow police officers will not arrest maskless lawmakers on the House side of the Capitol complex. Instead, officers will report infractions to their supervisors "who will, in turn, refer the matter to the House Sergeant at Arms."
Capitol Police has upped the penalty for failing to wear a mask in certain sections of the Capitol complex after Speaker Nancy Pelosi instituted a new mask mandate. Now, lawmakers on the House side of the Capitol Complex are compelled to wear masks indoors. In response, many of Pelosi's political opponents have criticized her decision.
“[Pelosi's mask mandate] is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted.
“He’s such a moron,” Pelosi replied.
“Well, if she’s so brilliant, can she tell me where the science in the building changes between the House and the Senate? Can she explain to me when the CDC says only vaccinated people need to wear a mask in hot spots," McCarthy fired back.
While McCarthy and Pelosi debate the merits of a mask mandate, one thing remains true: there is a sudden increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. Recent data from John Hopkins University has shown that the number of new COVID-19 cases has increased by at least 10% in 48 different states. Furthermore, 34 of those 48 states have experienced an increase of at least 50% within the last week. As a result, public health officials have taken to the media to encourage people to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors.
“This pandemic is not over,” Dr. Angela Myers of Children's Mercy Hospital said.
“It is incumbent upon the adults to take that responsibility and to do what is necessary."
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