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District Of Columbia Mayor Issues Non-Essential Business Closure Order


District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser just issued Executive Order No. 2020-053 ordering non-essential business to close and prohibiting large gatherings in an ongoing effort to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The Order has three key components: (1) it orders certain non-essential businesses to temporarily close and prohibits large gatherings; (2) it strongly encourages essential businesses to remain open and outlines appropriate social distancing requirements for those that do; and (3) it directs essential and non-essential businesses to take all reasonable steps necessary for employees to telework.

Non-Essential Businesses And Prohibition On Large Gatherings

All non-essential businesses in D.C. must close starting at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Non-essential businesses under the Order include:

Non-essential businesses may continue minimum basic operations at their facilities, meaning those activities necessary to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, and process payroll and employee benefits; and the minimum necessary activities to facilitate ongoing or new telework arrangements, provide cleaning and disinfection of a business’s facilities, and provide supervision of contractors or employees providing essential maintenance of the facility. All businesses, including non-essential businesses, may continue telework operations and home-based businesses can continue operations. 

Large gatherings of 10 or more persons, including such gatherings in confined outdoor spaces, are prohibited under the Order. Certain large gatherings are exempted, including essential businesses, groups performing essential government functions, spaces where 10 or more persons may be in transit or waiting for transit, gatherings or use of enclosed spaces where 10 or more people may be present at different times during the day as long as 10 people are not in the space at the same time, and office space, hotels, or residential buildings.

Essential Businesses

Essential businesses are encouraged to remain open and include:

Essential government functions will continue to operate in D.C., including first responders, law enforcement functions, services needed to ensure the continued operation of government agencies and to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the public performed by District of Columbia or federal government or their contractors, District of Columbia courts, and inter-governmental commissions and entities performing such functions, including judicial and election functions.

Any businesses that continue to operate as allowed under the Order must comply with the social distancing requirements outlined in the Order, including maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others, frequent hand washing for 20 seconds with soap and water or use of hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.


All businesses, including essential and non-essential, are directed to take all reasonable steps necessary for employees to work remotely from their residences and to deliver services to businesses and their customers by telephone, video, internet, or other remote means. Any individual or entity that knowingly violates the Order is subject to civil, criminal, and administrative penalties, including summary suspension or revocation of licensure. The Order remains in effect through April 24, 2020.


We will continue to monitor this rapidly developing situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ alert system to gather the most up-to-date information. For further information or advice on how to satisfy notice requirements as an employer, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney or any attorney in our Bethesda office, or any member of our COVID-19 Taskforce. You can also review our Comprehensive And Updated FAQs For Employers On The COVID-19 Coronavirus.

This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific local law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.


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