Latest Update on Stay-at-Home Orders in the D.C. Area

The governors of both Maryland and Virginia have allowed much of their states to begin the lengthy and gradual re-opening process, but the D.C. area, where the majority of both states COVID-19 cases have been found, remains under the same status quo of the last two months.

While much of Virginia shifted to the first phase of the commonwealth’s Forward Virginia plan last Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a two-week extension of “phase zero” in Northern Virginia, and later amended it to also include the city of Richmond and Accomack County on the Eastern Shore, which has been ravaged by two outbreaks at poultry plants.

The rate of positive tests continues to be higher in the densely-populated portions of Virginia just outside of Washington; in fact, the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and the city of Alexandria together account for roughly half of the commonwealth’s total COVID-19 cases. Fairfax alone accounts for 25 percent of the COVID cases in the state, despite being roughly 12 percent of the state’s population.

Auto sales and service work is allowed to continue in both the Maryland suburbs and in Northern Virginia, under the same patron capacity and social distancing requirements that have been in place over the past few weeks at minimum. Workers in both states are required to wear face coverings while on the job; the facemask mandate has been in place across Maryland since at least mid-April, but the Virginia mandate just went into effect on May 15 as part of Gov. Northam’s measure allowing much of the state to begin the re-opening process.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan began allowing counties to relax certain business restrictions and capacity limits last Friday at 5 p.m. However, none of the state’s seven largest jurisdictions implemented Gov. Hogan’s “stage one” order as written, with three counties in our region (Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Charles) extending their current stay-at-home orders for at least two more weeks.

Montgomery and Prince George’s counties account for more than half of all of Maryland’s confirmed COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, the state also reported another 1,784 confirmed cases of COVID-19, its highest one-day total of new cases since the pandemic began.

Anne Arundel, Frederick, and Howard counties all implemented modified orders, which generally allow for a resumption of manufacturing and limited retail services that had been shuttered since late March. However, Anne Arundel and Howard retained the patron capacity limits that have been in effect since Gov. Hogan’s initial stay-at-home order on March 30, while Frederick’s order allows certain businesses with a footprint under 10,000 square feet to operate at up to 50 percent capacity, in line with the state’s “stage one” order.

In the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the city’s stay-at-home order and non-essential business closure until June 8, though in recent days she has said the District is making progress on reducing both the rate of new cases and the proportion of positive tests. In theory, the city could potentially relax the stay-at-home order earlier than June 8, though nothing has been announced as of the time this Bulletin was published.

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