Washington, D.C. and Maryland Expand Their Reopening Efforts

Littler

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the District would move into Phase Two of its reopening plan on June 22, 2020.  Maryland has also expanded Stage Two of its reopening plan.  These moves, coupled with announcements from Montgomery County and Baltimore City mean that every jurisdiction in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (known collectively as the “DMV” area) have expanded their respective reopening plans.

Washington, D.C.

On June 19, 2020, Mayor Bowser issued Order 2020-075, which will move the District to the second phase of its reopening plan, effective June 22, 2020. Phase Two lifts the restriction on gatherings of over 10 people by permitting gatherings of up to 50 people.  While people can now congregate in greater numbers, they must continue to social distance (i.e., maintain a distance of at least six feet from persons not in their household) unless it is otherwise impossible to do so.  The District’s mask and face covering requirements remain in place.

Restaurants and Food Establishments

Besides providing takeout, delivery, “grab and go,” and outdoor dining, restaurants and other licensed food establishments may open for indoor dining with following safeguards in place:

  • Restaurants may serve customers at 50% capacity, which does not include restaurant staff or persons sitting outside;
  • All indoor dining/drinking customers must be seated, place orders, and be served at tables;
  • All tables must be placed so patrons are at least six feet apart
  • No more than six individuals may be seated together indoors, and indoor or outdoor tables that can accommodate larger groups may seat patrons if the groups are seated six feet apart at the table;
  • Bar seating is prohibited if any bartender is working at that bar;
  • All restaurants must implement sanitization and disinfection protocols;

Queuing is not allowed indoors, and restaurants are encouraged to use a reservation system to avoid crowding outside.  Furthermore, these establishments must prohibit any activity that cannot be carried out while seated at the table, such as darts, pool, ping-pong, pinball, or playgrounds.

These safeguards are the minimum requirements, meaning that restaurants may implement additional measures if necessary.  Additional guidance for restaurants can be found here.

Nonessential Businesses

Phase Two allows certain businesses to reopen, permits indoor shopping, and expands activities that had previously been restricted. 

Retail Businesses: Under Phase One of the District’s reopening plan, retail businesses were permitted to reopen for outdoor pickup and delivery.  While this is still encouraged, Phase Two permits all nonessential retail businesses to open for indoor shopping, but only if the business:

  • Operates at 50% capacity;
  • Establishes processes, such as demarcations where people may stand in line at check-out, to allow for social distancing between persons; and
  • Follows any protocols issued by Department of Health, including protocols on handling items touched but not purchased.

The Department of Health’s Guidance can be found here, which should be followed as closely as practicable.

Personal Services Businesses: Previously, hair salons and barbershops were the only personal services businesses that reopened during Phase One of the District’s reopening plan.  In Phase Two, tanning, tattoo, waxing, threading, electrolysis, cryotherapy, facial and other skin services, and nail salons may open.  These businesses must implement these safeguards:

  • Services may be provided by appointment only;
  • Only one customer per stylist, technician, artist, or the like;
  • Customers cannot wait inside for their appointment; and
  • Customer stations must be at least six feet apart from one another.

Guidance for personal services businesses can be found here.

Office Buildings and Other Nonessential, Non-Retail Businesses:  In Phase Two of the District’s reopening plan, office buildings, such as those housing government offices, will reopen and welcome back employees of certain businesses.  Nonessential, non-retail businesses must continue to have employees telework “to the greatest extent consistent with their business operations.”  While teleworking is still encouraged for businesses not covered by this direction, such as essential businesses, these businesses may reopen their office space provided that no more than 50 people are present in any single enclosed space at the same time and social distancing is maintained.  The ReOpen DC advisory group has also recommended that office spaces be limited to 25% capacity.

Guidance has been posted to assist office building owners, managers, and employers in the reopening process.  This guidance can be found here.

Real Estate Businesses: Open houses and ground-breaking ceremonies may also resume.  However, social distancing must be maintained and there cannot be over 50 people indoors at any one time.  The names, time of arrival, and contact information should be obtained for all attendees to assist in possible contact tracing.

Businesses that Remain Closed: Although a number of businesses may reopen under Phase Two, hookah bars and cigar bars remain closed.  Bars, nightclubs and mixed-use facilities also remain closed unless they serve food consistent with the Mayor’s prior orders.  Absent a waiver, theaters, cinemas, and other entertainment venues remain closed.  High-contact sports, club sports, and splash parks also remain closed.

Childcare and Other Learning Institutions

As what will be a welcome relief to many parents in the District, childcare centers may resume operations under Phase Two.  These childcare centers can maintain the same staff-to-child ratios as they had in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they must implement enhanced social distancing and hygiene practices.  Camps and aftercare activities may reopen if they have measures in place to limit the number of campers in an indoor space and to allow for handwashing and social distancing between the students. 

The National Zoo, museums, and libraries in the District also may reopen in Phase Two.  Libraries may reopen for indoor services at 50% capacity.  The National Zoo and museums cannot offer guided tours if social distancing between persons cannot be maintained and they cannot permit over 50 people in any auditorium, self-contained exhibit hall, or other facility.  Restaurants, cafes, and other dining facilities located at the National Zoo or a museum may reopen for indoor dining and must adhere to the same rules established for restaurants discussed above.

Guidance for childcare can be found here, and guidance for libraries and museums is located here.

Places of Worship

Places of worship may expand capacity.  While virtual services are still encouraged, indoor attendance for services is permitted up to 50% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.  At these services, singing, choirs, any physical touching of others, and the passing of shared items is discouraged, but not prohibited.  Moreover, the facility must be cleaned between services, and reservations and assigned seats are encouraged.  Any group attending a service must limit their numbers to 10 people or less and must be seated six feet from another group. 

Further guidance for places of worship can be found here.

Gyms, Fitness Establishments, and Exercise

Gyms, health clubs, yoga studios, and other fitness establishments may reopen under Phase Two subject to capacity limits and other restrictions.  Fitness establishments must limit their capacity to five persons per 1,000 square feet.  In addition, fitness establishments must frequently clean equipment between patron uses (not just between patrons) and limit the usage of equipment so patrons do not use adjacent equipment at the same time.  Group classes must ensure there is 10 feet between each person, apparatus, or other piece of equipment.  Hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms at these fitness establishments must remain closed.

Other recreational facilities such as recreation centers, bowling alleys, climbing gyms, squash or racquet clubs, skating rinks, and skateboard parks may open with no more than 50 people in each room or at 50% capacity, whichever is fewer.

Outdoor and indoor public swimming pools may reopen for structured swim activities after July 15, 2020.  Pools in apartments, condominiums, and cooperatives may open to their residents when the District transitions to Phase Two if: (1) the pool can ensure that social distancing measures are maintained; (2) a sign-in system is implemented; and (3) the apartment, condominium, or cooperative consents to prescheduled and unannounced inspections of the pool.  Hot tubs and hotel pools remain closed.

Further guidance for gyms and workout studios can be found here.

Enforcement

Any individual or entity that knowingly violates the D.C. order may be subject to civil and administrative penalties, including fines or loss of licenses.

Maryland

On June 10, 2020 Governor Larry Hogan expanded Stage Two of the Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan in Order 20-06-10-01.  As of June 19, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., religious facilities, retail establishments, indoor recreation, additional outdoor recreation activities, indoor dining, casinos, and fitness centers may reopen subject to specific limitations.  They join the first round of businesses that opened during initial phase of Stage Two such as manufacturing, construction, retail, specialty vendors, wholesalers, warehouses, offices, financial institutions, real estate, dealerships, and personal services businesses.  

The Governor’s reopening plan continues to permit local jurisdictions to opt to delay reopening or impose more restrictive local orders.  For instance, Prince George’s County imposes greater restrictions on which businesses may reopen and social distancing requirements, while Montgomery County and Baltimore City more closely track Governor Hogan’s plan.  While the state continues to move forward with its reopening plan, it strongly recommends that residents continue to social distance.  The previous restriction on gatherings of more than 10 people has been lifted. Marylanders are strongly encouraged to follow the most current guidance from the CDC and Maryland Department of Health regarding social distancing.  Maryland continues to encourage employees to telework where possible.

Restaurants. Bars and Social Clubss

Maryland restaurants, bars, and social clubs (e.g., American Legion posts, VFW posts, and Elks Clubs) with dining facilities may continue to offer outdoor dining in addition to carry-out and delivery services. Restaurants offering outdoor dining must follow strict protocols, including:

  • Seating patrons at least six feet apart, except for households seated together;
  • Ensuring that no more than six people are seated together at a table unless they are members of the same household;
  • Using single-use disposable paper menus or sanitizing reusable menus between each seating;
  • Sanitizing outdoor tables and chairs between each customer seating;
  • Training staff in current COVID-19 health and workplace guidelines;
  • Implementing screening procedures, including daily temperature checks of all staff; and
  • Requiring staff to wear masks or face coverings when interacting with other employees or patrons.

As part of Phase Two’s expansion, Maryland restaurants, bars, and social clubs may now also offer indoor dining. Any restaurant that offers indoor dining must following these rules:

  • Require all staff to wear face coverings, in accordance with the face coverings order (explained here);
  • Not allow the number of persons to exceed 50% of the establishment’s maximum occupancy;
  • Not serve food in a buffet format;
  • Not serve customers who are not seated; and
  • Clean and disinfect tables and chairs between each seating according to the CDC and Maryland Department of Health guidelines.

Further guidance and recommended practices for restaurants can be found here.  Note, local ordinances may impose more restrictive capacity guidelines or rules, so businesses should ensure they are familiar with any local applicable guidelines.

Retail Stores and Malls

All retail stores may now reopen but must limit occupancy to 50% the maximum number of people.  Shopping centers with one or more enclosed pedestrian walkways are also permitted to reopen to the general public.

Schools and Childcare Facilities

The Governor announced these facilities may bring staff and students inside buildings, but should impose social distancing practices.  Schools are encouraged to hold outdoor graduations and other activities that draw large crowds.  Child care facilities may reopen, but should limit capacity to 15 people per room.

Fitness Centers

Maryland residents can resume fitness activities at health centers, health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers, and self-defense schools.  Fitness centers are also subject to the 50% maximum occupancy rule.  Many localities have imposed greater restrictions on fitness centers.  For instance, fitness centers remain closed in Prince George’s County, as explained below.  Therefore, it is imperative that businesses also familiarize themselves with the rules of their counties and cities.

Casinos, Arcades, Race Tracks, and Betting Facilities

Maryland casinos may reopen at 50% occupancy capacity and Maryland racing establishments may resume races, but not reopen to the general public.  In Prince George’s County, casinos remain closed.

Personal Services Businesses

Subject to local orders that may impose greater restrictions, such as Prince George’s County where spas and tattoo parlors remain closed, personal service businesses—including nail salons, massage therapists, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors must still limit operations to 50% occupancy and appointment-only services.

Maryland has published a best practices guide for personal services businesses, which can be found here.

More Outdoor Activities Added to Phase Two

Besides youth sports and day camps, and outdoor pools, drive-in movie theaters, and tour boats which opened during the first round of Stage Two reopening, amusement parks, miniature golf establishments, and go-kart tracks may also open.

Outdoor pools may reopen at 25% capacity and must implement strict safety guidelines, including physical distancing and sanitization measurers. Patrons will have to sign in and sign out, and pools must post signage instructing anyone who is sick not to enter.

Additionally, high school sporting activities have been added to the reopening protocols issued to youth sports, youth day camps, during the initial phase of Stage 2.  They all must implement specific precautions. Youth sports should focus on individual skill building instead of competition, with limited group sizes and limited use of shared equipment. Youth day camps are limited to no more than 10 individuals in a group. Social distancing and masks are required for all staff and campers, as are daily COVID-19 symptom checks. Overnight camps and out-of-state campers are still prohibited.

Further guidance and recommended practices for outdoor pools can be found here, and further guidance and recommended practices for youth sports and youth day camps can be found here and here.

Social Clubs and Indoor Recreation Activities

Maryland expands Phase Two reopening to include bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, roller and ice skating rinks, social and fraternal clubs (including without limitation, American Legion posts, VFW posts, and Elks Clubs).  These facilities permitted to operate, but must limit indoor occupancy to 50%. 

Religious Facilities

Maryland religious facilities may now open to the general public at 50% the facility’s occupancy capacity.

Reopening Plans for State Agencies

State Agencies continue to reopen. Visit the State's official website for a full list of agencies accepting in-person visits by appointment.  Any agency with an expected occupancy of 10 people or more must conspicuously post social distancing practices and must provide visitors the capability of washing their hands. 

Except for these establishments, all other businesses may reopen.

All Concert halls, theaters, and senior facilities in Maryland remain closed.

Maryland Unemployment Insurance Obligations for Businesses

The Maryland Department of Labor has notified all unemployment claimants on temporary layoff or are furloughed due to COVID-19 they must return to work if called back by their employer, unless they can establish “good cause” for refusing an offer. If a claimant refuses an offer of work, it may result in the delay or denial of the claimant’s benefits. 

Localities

Several of Maryland’s largest localities initially opted to delay reopening while the rest of the state entered Stage Two. As of June 19, 2020, all localities have expanded their phased reopening plans.

Montgomery County. Montgomery County entered Stage Two of its phased reopening plan effective June 19, 2020.  It closely tracks Governor Hogan’s plan.  Under this plan, the following businesses are permitted to operate in Montgomery County: 

For full information on capacity and operations restrictions click here

Prince George’s County.  Prince George’s County also entered into Stage Two of its phased reopening plan effective June 15, 2020.  These businesses are permitted to operate in the County, many with capacity restrictions.  For more details on operating limitations, click here.

  • Retail stores
  • Barbershops and hair salons
  • Nail salons
  • Restaurants - outdoor seating and indoor dining
  • Houses of worship - indoor services at 25% capacity, or outdoor services of 250 people or less.
  • Outdoor community pools, both public and private, can open at 25% capacity.
  • Outdoor youth sports - no more than nine children and one coach.
  • Parks - for personal fitness and fitness classes.

Unlike Montgomery County, gyms, fitness centers, and other indoor physical activities including pools, spas, tattoo parlors, remain closed in Prince George’s County. Amusement parks, casinos and enclosed shopping malls also must remain closed. Gatherings of 10 or more people that are not explicitly permitted are still prohibited. County Government buildings remain closed to the public.  Although remote government services are still available.  Click here for details.

Baltimore City.  Baltimore City announced its expanded reopening plan effective Friday, June 19, 2020.  While the City remains in Stage One, its newly added reopening guidelines closely mirrors the state of Maryland’s Stage Two reopening plan, including allowing malls, retail stores, fitness centers, indoor and outdoor restaurant dining, youth sports, personal services, museums, casinos, retail establishments, recreation facilities faith centers, and youth activities to reopen.  Baltimore City imposes a 50% capacity restriction on all business activities.  It also makes face coverings mandatory for restaurant and fitness center and encourages face coverings in other business establishments.  For more details on specific restrictions click here.

Maryland has published an interactive map detailing each jurisdiction’s current operating status. This map is updated daily.

Maryland Enforcement

A person who knowingly and willfully violates the state order or any local order is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.

Conclusion

Employers should consult counsel to ensure they implement specific safety guidelines in compliance with local, state, and federal antidiscrimination and wage and hour laws.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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