DC Mayor’s COVID19 Stay-at-Home Order – extended to June 8 [updated 5/13/2020]
Order also addresses masks and required signage
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 June 8, 2020 (by Order 2020-066). 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 2020-053 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.
Who must wear masks inside our condominium building? What signage is required?
Employees, independent contractors and visitors, with some exceptions. Under Order 2020-66 (effective May 16 to June 8, but subject to change), “Essential Businesses” operating in DC, including residential living facilities, must:
1. Require employees and independent contractors to wear masks or face coverings when in the presence of other persons. Other requirements:
(a) Associations must instruct them on their safe use;
(b) Associations must provide their employees with the masks or coverings (except during periods when the association cannot procure a sufficient number);
(c) The mask/face covering requirement does not apply to individuals who cannot wear masks or face coverings due to a medical condition or disability, or who are unable to remove a mask without assistance.
2. Post signs at all entrances instructing all employees, contractors, customers, guests, and visitors to:
(a) wear a mask or face covering;
(b) maintain six (6) feet of distance from any other person who is not part of their household;
(c) Cough or sneeze away from other people and into a tissue or one’s elbow or sleeve and immediately dispose of the tissue in a safe manner
(d) Not shake hands or engage in any other unnecessary physical contact;
(e) If applicable, avoid entering if they are exhibiting a symptom of any transmissible infectious disease such as a cough, fever, and runny nose or have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis; and
(f) If applicable, shop quickly alone or only with members of their household.
Must we prohibit visitors without masks from entering our condominium building?
Yes, with some exceptions. Under Order 2020-66 (effective May 16 to June 8, but subject to change), “Essential Businesses” operating in DC, including residential living facilities, must exclude customers and visitors who are not wearing a mask or face covering, except for:
(1) Children under the age of nine (9) years old;
(2) Individuals experiencing homelessness;
(3) Individuals who cannot wear masks or face coverings due to a medical condition or disability, or who are unable to remove a mask without assistance; and
(4) When excluding them from entering would violate a federal or District law (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act).
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.
Federal, state and local responses to COVID-19 are changing quickly. We encourage associations to monitor relevant government websites and this page for further updates.
Legal Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of each case and each association’s governing documents. Also, it is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of all legal considerations, nor should it be used to replace the individualized advice of your legal counsel.