On March 30, 2020, in the latest effort to combat the COVID-19 virus, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued Mayor’s Order 2020-054 ordering District of Columbia residents to “stay at home” effective April 1, 2020. Previously, Mayor Bowser declared a public emergency [Mayor’s Order 2020-045] and a public health emergency [Mayor’s Order 2020-046], directed the closure of non-essential businesses, and prohibited public gatherings of more than 10 people [Mayor’s Order 2020-053]. The Mayor’s Orders are designed to keep the maximum number of people in their residences to the greatest extent feasible, while enabling essential activities, government services, and businesses to continue functioning.

A. Essential activities

Order 2020-054 requires all individuals living in the District of Columbia to stay in their residences (wherever the individual lives) except to engage in the following essential activities:

  • Obtaining medical care that cannot be provided through telehealth and obtaining food and essential household goods
  • Performing or accessing essential governmental functions
  • Working at essential businesses
  • Essential travel
  • Allowable recreational outdoor activity with household members that complies with social distancing requirements and includes the sanitizing of any equipment used before and after the activity

The Order provides that outdoor activities should not be conducted with persons other than those from one’s own household. Examples of allowable outdoor activity include walking, hiking, running, dog-walking, biking, rollerblading, scootering, skate boarding, playing tennis, golfing, gardening and other activities where all participants comply with social distancing requirements and there is no person-to-person contact. Individuals must sanitize any equipment before and after the activity.

Individuals who live in an apartment or condominium building are prohibited from lingering in common areas such as gyms, party rooms, lounges, rooftops, and courtyard spaces.

Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from the prohibitions outlined in the Order but are strongly urged to obtain shelter. District agencies along with public and private entities are strongly urged to make shelter available and to use COVID-19 risk mitigation procedures in their operations.

B. Essential travel

Essential travel means travel related to:

  • The provision of, or access to, essential (i) activities, (ii) government functions, (iii) businesses, including traveling to and from work to operate essential businesses or maintain essential government functions
  • Care for the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable persons
  • Visiting a house of worship
  • Travel to or from educational institutions to receive material for distance learning, receiving meals and related services
  • That required by law enforcement or court order
  • That required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside Washington, D.C.
  • Travel within the Washington region to engage in allowable activities under that jurisdiction’s laws

When engaging in essential travel, no more than two passengers may be in any ride-sharing vehicle at any time. Individuals using public transportation must comply with social distancing requirements and are asked to board transportation through the back door of any bus or van for the protection of the drivers. Drivers are required to have disinfecting wipes and must wipe down all surfaces potentially touched by a passenger after each ride. Individuals using shared personal mobility devices (e.g., scooters and bicycles) are strongly encouraged to bring their own disinfecting wipes and wipe down the parts of the device they touch before and after riding.

An individual suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 or any other transmissible infectious disease is prohibited from being outside his/her residence except to receive medical care.

C. Operation of essential businesses and minimum business operations

The provisions of Mayor’s Order 2020-053 that address which businesses are essential, promote telework, and allow for minimum business operations of non-essential businesses remain in effect. Minimum basic operations means the minimum necessary activities to:

  • Maintain the value of a businesses’ inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits and related functions
  • Facilitate employees being able to work remotely from their residences
  • Facilitate teleworking or the remote delivery of services formerly provided in-person by the business
  • Clean and disinfect a business’ facilities
  • Provide employee supervision of contractors or employees providing essential maintenance of the facility

D. Enforcement

An entity or individual who knowingly violates either Mayoral Order 2020-053 or Mayoral Order 2020-054 will be subject to civil, criminal, and administrative penalties authorized by law, including sanctions, a $1,000 fine and/or summary suspension or revocation of business licensure. An individual who willfully violates these Orders may be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000 and imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.

If you have questions on the requirements of the Order or other questions with respect to your workforce related to COVID-19, please contact Reed Smith’s Labor & Employment COVID-19 Task Force, CoronavirusEmploymentTeam@ReedSmith.com