Washington, D.C. Mayor Defends Ban on Dancing at Weddings

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Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser testifies at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., March 22, 2021. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday defended her decision to prohibit standing and dancing at weddings after her order, which she says aims to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, was the subject of much backlash from residents and media.

Asked by CNN, “What good is a wedding without dancing?” Bowser replied, “I think there’s a lot of good to a wedding, like people starting off their lives together and doing it in a safe way and not doing it in a way that puts themselves or their guests in danger.”

“An alternate headline may be, ‘Now You Can Host a Wedding in Washington., D.C.,’” the Democratic mayor suggested.

She said the new rules, issued via executive order on May 1, allow for a number of events, including family reunions and birthday parties at hotels and restaurants.

“And just like our restaurant guidelines suggest is that you have to be seated to enjoy the restaurant,” she said.   

The order also limits indoor and outdoor weddings to 25 percent capacity and requires a waiver for more than 250 people. In a statement to Fox 5 DC earlier this week, the mayor’s office said the dancing ban aims to reduce the spread of COVID-19 because when people stand and dance they are more likely to get close and touch each other.

The executive order is in effect until May 20 unless the mayor’s office issues another update.

Earlier Wednesday she similarly tried to reframe the issue at a press conference: “You might say that, for 14 months, we haven’t been able to host weddings at our venues, our hotels, and now we can,” she said, according to DCist. “We think it’s very important that we open up our industries, but we do it safely.”

Asked why nearby jurisdictions haven’t implemented a similar ban, Bowser responded, “I’m the mayor of Washington, D.C. so I work with our public health experts to make the decisions that are best for Washington, D.C.”

Bowser previously defended her order in a press conference on Monday, saying, “if you’re asking about being seated at large gatherings, that’s been our posture throughout the response to the pandemic … It’s the public health sentiment that we are still maintaining physical distance and, in venues where there’s other activity that adds risk for the spread of COVID, like alcohol consumption, it’s even more significant that people maintain social distancing.”

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