Fact Check

Did the Mayor of DC Ban Dancing at Weddings Because of COVID-19?

Vows of matrimony just aren’t the same in a pandemic.

Published May 6, 2021

 (Shardayyy Photography/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via Shardayyy Photography/Wikimedia Commons
On April 26, 2021, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser banned dancing at weddings in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

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If you live in Washington, D.C., and are planning to get married there, you may want to consider a recent change made by city officials.

An order issued on April 26, 2021 — which will go into effect on May 1 — reopens venues for weddings, BUT enforces social distancing at those same venues with one controversial caveat: no dancing at receptions.

Beginning May 1, multi-purpose facilities and venues may host events such as weddings and special non-recurring events provided that there be no more than twenty five percent (25%) of capacity in any room or up to two hundred fifty (250) persons, not including facility staff, whichever is fewer. [...] Attendees and guests must remain seated and socially distanced from each other or other household groups. If these events include dining, facilities and venues that adhere to rules established for restaurants and licensed food establishments. Standing and dancing receptions are not allowed.

The order resulted in outrage, and jokes about how this closely resembled the plot of the 1984 movie “Footloose,” where dancing was banned in a small town.

In an interview with CNN, Bowser added, “Well, 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 mayor also would not commit to allowing dancing with masks on and attendees vaccinated. In a statement to DCist, DC Health said, “Consistent with CDC recommendations, face masks and social distancing are required for large gatherings. Dancing at events does not allow for social distancing and increases close contact with multiple people.”

A spokesperson for the mayor also told The Washington Post that dancing was effectively banned at such gatherings and events before, but this latest order explicitly prohibited it.

Given that this policy has been shared by the mayor’s office, she has discussed it publicly, and her spokespersons have acknowledged its veracity, we rate this claim as “True.”

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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