D.C.’s COVID19 Stay-at-Home Order – updated 4/15/20
Mayor’s COVID19 Stay-at-Home Order – extended to May 15
To fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, D.C. Mayor Bowser issued Order 2020-053 closing non-essential businesses in Washington D.C. In addition, on March 30, the Mayor issued Order 2020-054, a “Stay at Home” Order, providing that residents of the District should stay at home, but may travel to work at “essential businesses.” These Orders have both been extended through May 15, 2020 (by Order 2020-063). As noted below, the Orders were also amended to delete the original Order’s reference to courtyards and rooftop spaces.
Must associations shut down their operations under the Mayor’s Order?
No. Order 2020-054 states that “businesses that provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and operation of residences and Essential Businesses” are in fact essential. In addition, the Order deems “Housing and Living Facilities, including residences and residential facilities” as essential. Thus, under Section II of the Order, the operations of community associations may continue.
Are associations legally required to close their private gyms, fitness centers and other facilities under the Mayor’s Order?
Yes, it appears so. The Mayor’s Order 2020-054 provides that D.C. residents shall not “linger in common areas of apartment buildings” and shall not use “buildings’ facilities” like “gyms, party rooms [and] lounges.” While the Order does not expressly refer to condominiums or HOAs, the Mayor’s office (through its FAQ postings) has confirmed the prohibition applies to such communities. In an “FAQ” posted by the Mayor’s office regarding a condominium gym continuing to operate, the Mayor responded that “gyms [must be] closed, regardless of ownership or structure.” In light of the Mayor’s Order and the potential spread of the virus by individuals in close quarters, we recommend that associations close facilities where such gatherings occur, including gyms, fitness rooms, community rooms and similar areas.
Amended Order Deletes Courtyards/Rooftops. Please note that the Mayor’s Order was amended on April 8 to delete the original Order’s restriction on use of rooftops and courtyard spaces. The Amendment states that individuals may utilize rooftops and courtyard spaces but “only with members of their household and while practicing social distancing.” As such, while associations may close such areas, the Order does not require their closure. Associations are free to use their own business judgment to determine what is best for their community as to such areas.