There have been several recent and important developments in the on-going COVID-19 pandemic response in the District of Columbia and Maryland that affect employers.
The District of Columbia
On May 13, 2020, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced in Mayor’s Order 2020-066 that the District of Columbia would extend its stay-at-home order until June 8, 2020. In order to begin reopening, the District of Columbia is looking for a “14-day sustained decrease in community spread” and a “[t]ransmission rate of less than 1.0 for three days.” While the District is seeing a decline in cases, those metrics have not yet been reached. Additionally, the order now requires that individuals engaged in work at an essential business or in minimum basic operations of a non-essential businesses and during essential travel wear face coverings.
In contrast to D.C., Maryland has begun the initial process of reopening. On May 13, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan announced, in Order 20-05-13-01 that the state was beginning a stair-step process to restart its economy.
Effective at 5:00 p.m. on May 15, 2020, Maryland will relax restrictions by allowing the partial resumption of business at retail establishments, manufacturing facilities, and some personal services.
Businesses, establishments, and facilities that principally sell goods may open, provided that the total number of persons permitted in an establishment does not exceed 50 percent of the establishment’s maximum occupancy. Examples given in guidance accompanying the order include:
- “Animal adoption shelters.
- Art galleries.
- Car washes.
- Clothing and shoe stores.
- Furniture stores.
- Lawn and garden stores.
- Pawn shops.
- Pet groomers
- Sporting goods stores.
- Tobacco and vape shops.”
When opening, staff and patrons must adhere to social distancing protocols and wear face coverings while in store.
Subject to local orders, all manufacturing businesses and facilities in Maryland may open.
Beauty salons (but only to provide hair services) and barbershops may open. However, staff are required to wear face coverings, may provide services on an appointment basis only, and the number of persons in the establishment may not exceed 50 percent of the maximum capacity. Further, after a customer leaves, staff must disinfect the area where the services were performed according to guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not all businesses have been permitted to reopen. Restaurants and bars remain closed to the general public, except for takeout or delivery services. Fitness centers (gyms, fitness centers, health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers, self-defense schools) must also remain closed. Additionally, the order does not lift restrictions on tattoo parlors, tanning salons, massage parlors, nail salons, or establishments providing esthetic services or provide nail technical services.
Of note, Order 20-05-13-01 provides significant leeway for local municipalities to remain closed. Section 4(i) of Order 20-05-13-01 states that all businesses, organizations, establishments, and facilities that are required to close pursuant to any other order of a political subdivision, “shall be and remain closed.” This carveout was included to take into account the concerns of counties like Montgomery and Prince Georges, which border the District of Columbia. These counties have seen some of the highest rates of infection in the state, and have already indicated their intent (along with Howard County) to reopen at a slower pace than the rest of the state. Employers may want to check local orders in addition to Order 20-05-13-01 on reopening businesses.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar programs.