Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Updated June 9, 2020
Last week, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser moved Washington, D.C. to Phase One of the District’s plan for reopening following COVID-19 closures. Likewise, as of June 5, 2020, Maryland has entered Stage Two of its reopening plan. While not every jurisdiction will move to Stage Two immediately, all jurisdictions in Maryland have now entered the first stage of the state’s reopening plan. These announcements, coupled with recent announcements from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, mean that every jurisdiction in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (known collectively as the “DMV” area) have now started to reopen.
On May 27, 2020, Mayor Bowser issued Order 2020-067 (the “D.C. Order”), which lifts the District’s Stay-at-Home Order and transitions the city to the first phase of reopening effective May 29, 2020. Under Phase One of the District’s recovery plan, certain nonessential businesses may reopen and outdoor dining is permitted, with approvals and specific measures in place.
Stay-at-Home Order Lifted
For District residents and visitors, the D.C. Order ends nearly two months of being under a stay-at-home order. Under the D.C. Order, nearly all individuals living in, working in, and visiting Washington, D.C. are no longer required to stay at their residences. Furthermore, parks, dog parks, tennis courts, tracks, and fields may reopen, but the District will not grant special event permits until at least July 24, 2020.
Although the Stay-at-Home Order has been lifted, a number of other restrictions remain in place. Individuals must social distance (i.e., maintain a distance of at least six feet) from persons not in their household when leaving their residence unless it is impossible to maintain such a distance. In addition, the District’s mask and face covering requirements remain in place, gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited, and playgrounds, public pools, recreation centers, and indoor facilities remain closed. Furthermore, those who are suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 may only leave their residence for medical treatment.
The D.C. Order allows nonessential retail businesses to reopen for outdoor pickup and delivery only, meaning in-store shopping is still prohibited. On the other hand, barbershops and hair salons can conduct limited in-store sales of hair-related products immediately before or after an appointment and may offer hair-related services with the following safeguards:
- Services may be provided by appointment only;
- Only one customer per barber or stylist;
- Customers cannot wait inside for their appointment;
- Customer stations must be at least six feet apart from one another; and
- Services such as waxing, electrolysis, threading, and nail care may not be performed.
In addition, the D.C. Order encourages—but does not mandate—that salons and barber shops keep customer information for contact tracing purposes, including which barber or stylist the customer saw. Businesses that reopen must follow health guidance and, among other things, must “[c]reate a plan regarding COVID-19, including providing all employees information about testing locations.”
The D.C. Order clarifies that a number of other nonessential businesses, such as fitness establishments, tanning and tattoo providers, nail salons, bowling alleys and skating rinks, jewelry, toy, book and clothing stores, florists, bars, and theaters, remain closed except for curbside pickup or delivery and conducting minimum business operations.
Restaurants and Farmers Markets
Phase One of the District’s reopening plan also relaxes restrictions for restaurants and other licensed food establishments. In addition to takeout, delivery, and “grab and go” services, outdoor dining is now permitted at restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, and mixed-use facilities that are approved to serve food. Specific safeguards must be in place to offer outdoor dining, which include:
- Outdoor dining customers must be seated, place orders, and be served at tables.
- No more than six individuals may be seated at a table.
- All tables must be at least six feet apart.
- Sanitization and disinfecting protocols must be implemented.
Recognizing that not all restaurants are licensed for outdoor dining, Mayor Bowser announced the creation of the “streateries” program. Streateries allow restaurants that had not been licensed for outdoor space to apply to use expanded sidewalk space, alleys, parking lanes, and travel lanes for table seating. There is no fee to register for this program. Restaurants that had been licensed for outdoor space do not need to apply unless they want to expand their existing outdoor space. Applications for the streateries program can be found here.
Establishments offering outdoor dining are encouraged—but again not required—to use a reservation system and keep customer logs to facilitate contact tracing. Additional Phase One guidance for restaurants can be found here.
Farmers Markets in D.C. are also permitted to expand their operations. Farmers Markets, which still require a waiver to operate, may request to amend their previous plans and request waivers to sell non-food items, prepare food on-site, and allow customers to select their own produce and provide this produce in non-pre-bagged quantities. Such requests must be filed with firstname.lastname@example.org.
The D.C. Order allows healthcare providers, dentists, and doctor’s offices to offer medical services, including outpatient services, elective procedures, and non-emergency services. The only caveat is that these services cannot burden the District’s hospital capacity or COVID-19-related resources.
Any individual or entity that knowingly violates the D.C. Order may be subject to civil and administrative penalties, including fines or loss of licenses.
The D.C. Order is set to expire on July 24, 2020, but may be amended or rescinded prior to that date. While the District continues to expand testing capacity, access to tests, and contact tracing, the mayor has not announced when the District will enter Phase Two of the reopening plan.
On May 13, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan transitioned Maryland to Stage One of the Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan, allowing certain retail establishments, beauty salons, barbershops, manufacturing businesses, and religious facilities to reopen subject to specific limitations. Subsequently, Governor Hogan has announced that due to its successful reopening under Stage One and the achievement of additional key metrics, Maryland can safely resume additional activities, including outdoor dining, and enter Stage Two of its reopening plan allowing personal service businesses to reopen.
In addition, those jurisdictions that had delayed reopening (Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Baltimore City) have now partially entered Stage One of the state’s reopening plan. As a result, every jurisdiction in Maryland has begun to reopen in one form or another.
Additional Activities Permitted Under Stage One and Stage Two Reopening
On May 27, 2020, Governor Hogan issued Order 20-05-27-01, which allows additional activities to resume, including outdoor dining and outdoor activities such as youth sports and youth day camps, and the reopening of outdoor pools and drive-in movie theaters. Limitations on these activities are discussed below.
Governor Hogan then announced this past week that Maryland will enter Stage Two of its reopening plan on June 5, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., and issued Order 20-06-03-01 that lifts the previous closure of certain nonessential businesses. This move will allow additional operations to resume, such that manufacturing, construction, retail, specialty vendors, wholesalers, warehouses, offices, financial institutions, real estate, dealerships, and others will be open. Personal services are also permitted to reopen as discussed in the section below.
While the state continues to move forward with its reopening plan, gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited, social distancing requirements remain in place, and retail establishments must continue to comply with the governor’s Face Coverings Order. Furthermore, Maryland continues to encourage employees to telework where possible.
Restaurants and Outdoor Dining
Maryland restaurants, bars, and social clubs (e.g., American Legion posts, VFW posts, and Elks Clubs) with dining facilities may offer outdoor dining in addition to carry-out and delivery services. Restaurants offering outdoor dining must follow strict protocols, including:
- Seating patrons at least six feet apart, except for households seated together;
- Ensuring that no more than six people are seated together at a table unless they are members of the same household;
- Using single-use disposable paper menus or sanitizing reusable menus between each seating;
- Sanitizing outdoor tables and chairs between each customer seating;
- Training staff in current COVID-19 health and workplace guidelines;
- Implementing screening procedures, including daily temperature checks of all staff; and
- Requiring staff to wear masks or face coverings when interacting with other employees or patrons.
Breweries, wineries, and distilleries have not been left out. Order 20-05-29-01 allows state-licensed manufacturers of alcohol to serve alcoholic beverages in outdoor seating areas provided that these establishments comply with many of the same protocols for outdoor dining. This Order also allows such establishments to ship alcohol directly to customers.
Further guidance and recommended practices for restaurants can be found here.
Personal Services Businesses
Personal services businesses—including nail salons, massage therapists, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors—may reopen in Stage Two. These businesses, however, may only service clients at 50% capacity. In addition, all services must be by appointment-only to maintain social distancing.
Maryland has published a best practices guide for personal services businesses, which can be found here.
Additional Outdoor Activities
As mentioned, under Governor Hogan's recent order certain outdoor activities also may resume, including youth sports and day camps, and outdoor pools, drive-in movie theaters, and tour boats may reopen.
Outdoor pools may reopen at 25% capacity and must implement strict safety guidelines, including physical distancing and sanitization measurers. Patrons will be required to sign in and sign out, and pools must post signage instructing anyone who is sick not to enter.
Additionally, youth sports and youth day camps may resume, but must implement specific precautions. Youth sports should focus on individual skill building instead of competition, with limited group sizes and limited use of shared equipment. Youth day camps are limited to no more than 10 individuals in a group. Social distancing and masks are required for all staff and campers, as are daily COVID-19 symptom checks. Overnight camps and out-of-state campers currently are still prohibited.
Reopening Plans for State Agencies
The Motor Vehicle Administration is among a small number of customer-facing agencies that will begin reopening select branches on a limited basis by appointment only as part of the Stage Two reopening. Visit the state's official website for a full list of agencies that are accepting in-person visits by appointment.
Localities Partially Reopening
Several of Maryland’s largest localities initially opted to delay reopening while the rest of the state entered Stage One. These localities have since partially reopened under Stage One but have not yet entered Stage Two.
Montgomery County. Montgomery County initiated a phased reopening plan on June 1, 2020. Pursuant to this plan, retail establishments may offer curbside pickup, drive-in religious services are permitted, restaurant and bars may offer outdoor dining with social distancing rules in place, hair salons and barbershops may offer hair-only appointments, car washes may provide exterior cleaning services, childcare may be provided for the dependents of essential employees and Phase One opening employees, and outdoor youth sports and day camps may reopen. Any restaurant that plans to offer outdoor dining must complete a registration form confirming their understanding of new safety guidelines. Moreover, all establishments that reopen must implement specific protective measures, including physical distancing, careful cleaning and disinfecting, and wearing face coverings (employees and customers). Swimming pools have not been permitted to reopen in Montgomery County.
Prince George’s County. In Prince George’s County, restaurants may resume outdoor dining with social distancing rules in place, hair salons and barbershops can reopen by appointment only, nonessential businesses can offer curbside pickup, farmers markets can open for carryout, childcare facilities may offer childcare for essential workers, and houses of worship can open for up to 10 people. Basketball courts, playgrounds, and pools remain closed.
Baltimore City. The City of Baltimore began its phased reopening of services and businesses on Monday, June 8, 2020. Barbershops and hair salons, faith-based gatherings, childcare, outdoor dining at restaurants, summer, curbside and delivery service for retail outlets, hotels, and the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar are permitted to resume or expand operations. The Mayor’s announcement can be found here.
Maryland has published an interactive map detailing each jurisdiction’s current operating status. This map is updated daily.
A person who knowingly and willfully violates this Order or any Local Order is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.
Businesses in the DMV that intend to reopen should take immediate steps to implement a COVID-19 plan, and ensure compliance with any applicable requirements. Further, employers should consult counsel to ensure they are prepared to implement specific safety guidelines in compliance with local, state, and federal antidiscrimination and wage and hour laws.