Associations and Virginia’s COVID19 Executive Orders – updated 5/5/2020
Governor’s Executive Orders – EO53 (social distancing and non-essential business) extended to May 14. “Phase 1” reopening may begin May 15. EO55 still in place until June 10.
EO55 – Stay-At-Home. To fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Virginia’s Governor Northam issued EO-55, an executive “stay-at-home” order on March 30, 2020, to supplement EO-53 he issued on March 23 (which required social distancing and other measures). Under EO-55, Virginia residents must remain in their residences and may leave only for certain activities until June 10, 2020. The Order allows Virginia residents to travel to and from their workplaces and residences.
EO53 – Nonessential Businesses and Social Distancing. In addition, under EO-53, gatherings of more than 10 persons are prohibited and certain facilities must be closed. Under these Orders, association management and staff may continue to work at their community association workplaces in Virginia. Per an Order issued by the Governor on May 4, EO-53 (social distancing and closure of nonessential businesses) was extended until May 14, 2020.
Phased Reopening. The Governor also indicated that the Commonwealth intends to carry out a “phased” reopening of certain businesses and activities, starting on May 15, although more guidance is expected regarding that process. Whether “Phase 1” begins on May 15 also depends on Virginia’s positive trending on coronavirus infections as that date approaches.
Must associations shut down their operations under the Governor’s Orders?
No. While the Governor’s Orders require certain retail businesses to close, neither EO-55 nor EO-53 require community associations to close or cease their operations. However, under EO-53, all Virginia businesses must, to the extent possible, “adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities while in operation.”
In addition, while business operations offering professional services may remain open under EO-53, such operations must “utilize teleworking as much as possible” and also “adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and apply the relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.” Under the Order, Association offices and facilities should adhere to these guidelines.
Are associations legally required to close their private gyms, fitness centers and other facilities under the Governor’s Order?
Yes, it now appears so. EO-53 requires closure of all “public access” to recreational businesses, including fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities and indoor exercise facilities. If an association has private facilities not accessible to the public, the Governor’s Order does not expressly require their closure. However, in an FAQ posted by the state, the Governor referred to condominium facilities as “public;” as such, we interpret EO-53 to require that condominium and HOA fitness centers, gyms, recreation centers and other indoor facilities be closed. This Order has now been extended until May 14.
Bearing in mind that close contact between persons can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 and the provisions of the EO’s (that prohibit “all public and private in-person gatherings of more than ten individuals”), associations should give serious consideration to also closing non-recreational facilities where such gatherings may occur, including community rooms and similar areas.
Are associations prevented from operating their outdoor pools to the residents under the Governor’s Order?
Probably so. Based on information from the Governor’s office, pools — both indoor and outdoor — should be closed to residents to be consistent with the Governor’s Executive Order 53 (as interpreted in the FAQs posted on the Governor’s website) until at least the expiration of that EO or further clarification from the Governor. EO-53 has now been extended until May 14 and may be extended again. Also, the stay-at-home Order (EO-55) prohibits social gatherings of more than 10 people and requires 6-foot social distancing when engaging in outdoor recreation/exercise.
What are associations permitted to do when the “Phase 1” reopening of Virginia occurs?
On May 4, the Governor indicated that Virginia is likely to institute a “Phase 1” reopening beginning on May 15. While there are general federal standards for “Phase 1,” the Governor’s office is expected to issue more guidance as to what “Phase 1” means for Virginia, including social distancing, teleworking and opening of businesses and facilities. Associations may monitor the Governor’s website and this page for further developments.