WASHINGTON — Fully vaccinated White House employees will no longer be required to wear masks at work, according to new protocols announced Monday in an internal email obtained by NBC News.
The new policy from the White House Covid operations team, which will go into effect Tuesday, applies even to staff who work in close proximity to President Joe Biden. Masks will still be required when employees are in transit, or in jurisdictions that still require facial coverings.
“As we have over the course of the past year, we will continue to update and adjust our COVID-19 campus protocols in response to the public health landscape and in consultation with public health experts and medical advisors, and we will circulate updated guidance as appropriate,” the email states, while also noting that some individuals may still prefer to wear masks.
Officials are not changing other Covid protocols, including regular testing and vaccination requirements. Ninety-nine percent of employees in the Executive Office of the President are vaccinated, according to a White House official.
The White House says it expects to issue further guidance soon related to Biden’s separate executive order on masking guidelines for federal buildings and lands.
The change comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance Friday that dramatically lowered the share of Americans advised to wear facial coverings. The CDC said Americans who are at low risk for severe illness and who live in areas with low transmission and hospitalization rates — roughly 70 percent of the population — no longer need to wear masks.
Even after the new CDC guidance was issued, the White House said Friday it would continue to comply with the District of Columbia’s mask mandate, which expires on Tuesday.
The Office of the Attending Physician for the U.S. House of Representatives also announced Sunday that lawmakers will not be required to wear masks for Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.