D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was feistier than usual at her daily morning press conference on July 29.
When a reporter asked her what she recommended that Walmarts do when customers refuse to wear a mandated mask in a store, the mayor answered: “Call the police.”
“Excuse me?” said the reporter, obviously surprised by the usually nuanced mayor’s curt answer. “Call the police!” she answered again. “It’s up to D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department to handle unmasked situations.”
“Everyone is so tense. I would be scared to confront people,” an 18-year-old Walmart “Health Ambassador” in North Carolina told Business News. While many large retailers in D.C., like Safeway and CVS, have signs posted saying that wearing masks in the store is required, enforcement is still an issue. But no official wants a confrontation over wearing masks to escalate into violence.
Bowser had another idea that morning. “Advisory neighborhood commissioners and neighbors should get involved, to be accountable for enforcing citywide mandates. They know their neighborhoods and can act in the best ways that relate with their communities,” she said.
Two commissioners, Randy Downs from Dupont Circle (ANC 2B) and James Harnett from Foggy Bottom (ANC 2A), agreed. “I am out all the time in the neighborhood and actually got involved in a stand-down with a cantankerous person yelling at customers in front of an outdoor restaurant,” Downs told The Georgetowner. “I and several other neighbors stood in a quiet line between the diners and the individual until he quieted down,”
Downs is running as an Independent for the Ward 2 Council seat in the November election. Harnett is running for a seat on the D.C. State Board of Education.
When asked on July 30 how the District’s travel ban — requiring visitors to D.C. from 27 identified “high-risk” states to quarantine for two weeks — would be carried out and enforced, the mayor was less specific. “They need to be quarantined and hotels are required to tell them that,” she answered (not to mention the relatives and friends they may be visiting).