The Democratic House Speaker said failure to wear a mask in the chamber is a “serious breach of decorum” which could result in members being ejected. Members can remove them to speak.
“It’s a sign of respect for the health, safety and well-being of others present in the chamber and in surrounding areas,” she said.
Texas Representative Louie Gohmert, an outspoken opponent of wearing masks, tested positive just before he was scheduled to travel to his home state with President Donald Trump.
The 66-year-old conservative told a Texas news station he tested positive before boarding Air Force One and planned to self-quarantine.
He said he had been wearing a mask more recently and suggested that is how he might have caught the virus.
“I can’t help but wonder if my keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, that if I might have put some germs or some of the virus on to the mask and breathed it in — I don’t know,” he said.
He is at least the 10th member of Congress known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Florida, one of the US states worst hit by the coronavirus, was today closing its testing centres as Tropical Storm Isaias heads towards the coast.
The state has reported more than 450,000 infections and about 6,300 deaths from the virus, with Miami accounting for a quarter of all of the cases.
Meanwhile Australia today reported a surge in infections, with the hard-hit state of Victoria recording a record 723 new cases.
Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews said wearing face coverings would become compulsory for the whole state from next week. Masks have so far been mandatory only in Melbourne and a neighbouring district for the past week.
Officials have said sick people breaking isolation rules or not getting tested in time was leading to continued spread despite lockdown measures.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters: “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus.”
The pandemic is surging across much of Asia, including India, where more than 52,000 new cases were reported over the previous 24 hours, its highest single-day figure, taking the country’s total to almost 1.6 million.
China, where the virus was first detected in December, has seen more than 100 confirmed infections for the first time in more than three months.
Japan is lifting its ban on the re-entry of some foreign residents next week, despite also experiencing a spike in cases. Travel restrictions have left about 90,000 foreign nationals with residence permits stuck outside the country.