Capitol Attending Physician Announces Face Masks Will Be Optional Ahead Of Biden’s State Of The Union Address

Photo by Caroline Brehman - Pool/Getty Images

Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
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The United States Capitol attending physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan said Sunday that masks will not be required inside the Capitol beginning Monday, just one day before President Joe Biden is set to deliver his State of the Union address.

Monahan reportedly made the decision based on the current rate of positive results at the Capitol’s testing center, which has dropped to 2.7%, according to Politico. House members have been required to wear masks on the House floor, and many members have been fined for violating the mandate put in place by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who tends to follow Monahan’s guidance.

“Business processes such as committee hearings and other meetings should revise signage or operating statements to reflect interior space mask wear is optional and not required at this time,” Monahan wrote a Sunday memo.

“Coronavirus circumstances, the COVID19 Community Level, may change to a ‘medium or yellow’ level where select individuals resume interior mask wear and weekly serial testing while a ‘high or orange’ level would prompt resumption of the indoor mask wear requirement for all,” he added.

The Senate has never had a mask mandate. The House chamber, where the address is delivered, can reportedly hold up to 950 people. During Biden’s first joint address to Congress, Pelosi limited the number of members who could attend the address to 25 for both parties. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans Demand Pelosi Allow All Members Of Congress To Attend Biden’s State Of The Union Address In-Person)

President Joe Biden speaks with lawmakers as he exits the House chamber at the end of his address to the joint session of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Caroline Brehman – Pool/Getty Images)

Earlier in February, a group of House Republicans sent a letter to Pelosi demanding all members of Congress be allowed to attend Biden’s State of the Union address after they claimed she plans to limit the number of members who can go in person.(RELATED: We Still Don’t Know When Biden Plans To Address A Joint Session Of Congress)

In January, Pelosi formally invited Biden to give his State of the Union address on March 1. That is the latest date ever announced for the annual address. (RELATED: Pelosi Announces State Of The Union Date, First Ever In March)

Biden’s first address to Congress got nearly 24 million fewer viewers than former President Donald Trump’s lowest-rated State of the Union address.