A federal agency rejected speculation that law enforcement officers would apprehend anyone who does not cover their nose and mouth on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) confirmed it will not arrest staff and visitors if they are suspected of breaching the face mask mandate.
“Regarding the House mask rule, there is no reason it should ever come to someone being arrested,” USCP said on Twitter. “Anyone who does not follow the rule will be asked to wear a mask or leave the premises. The department’s requirements for officers to wear masks is for their health and safety.”
A leaked memo earlier revealed the agency was directed to detain visitors, and report Congress members, who fail to comply with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recently reinstated mask mandate in the House.
“Any person who fails to either comply or to leave the premises after being asked to do so would be subject to an arrest for unlawful entry,” Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger said in the memo obtained by Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.).
In today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals.— Congresswoman Kat Cammack (@RepKatCammack) July 29, 2021
For Members, they advise not arresting but “reporting Members to SAA for their failure to comply.”
Although Manger did not state USCP would arrest them if they fail to obey the mandate, the statement still warns suspects “should be reported to the House Sergeant at Arm’s office.”
The House previously announced it would restore its mask mandate, and members would be fined at least $500 if they do not cover their faces. Even the fully vaccinated must comply.
While the mandate irritated many Republican lawmakers who resist what they call an “unscientific” measure to prevent the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Virus from spreading, the arrest memo stirred even fiercer backlash.
Cammack, who leaked the memo, accused the House speaker of breaking the law in her official capacity.
“In today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals,” she said on Twitter. “For members they advise not arresting but ‘reporting members to [the] Sergeant at Arms for their failure to comply.'”
USCP’s latest update clarifies visitors and staff will not be arrested and only reminded to wear a mask or told to leave. However, the agency did not state whether lawmakers would be reported to the Sergeant at Arms.
GOP House members who resist the mandate accuse Pelosi of reintroducing the CCP Virus restriction out of political interests.
“To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to arrest vaccinated people who are not wearing masks,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on Twitter. “This is not about science–it is about power and control.”
To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren’t wearing masks.— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) July 29, 2021
This isn’t about science—it’s about power and control. https://t.co/XMXxI0Dw2D
Pelosi’s office vigorously denies the allegations, saying the Democrat neither issued the USCP memo nor had any part in requiring masks in the House.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) previously changed its guidance to require fully vaccinated people to wear face masks. CDC claimed the extra protection was necessary due to the Delta variant being more contagious and capable of causing breakthrough cases.
“Information on the Delta variant from several states and other countries indicate that in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement obtained by Yahoo News. “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”
A citywide mask mandate for all indoor spaces takes effect across Washington on July 31. The decision came following a jump in new CCP Virus infections, according to NBC Washington. This policy applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status.