Masks Required in the D.C. Area as Region Begins to Re-Open

As of Monday, every county in the D.C. region has moved to some type of a “stage one” reopening, though the provisions vary by locality, as do the impacts to various businesses.

In Maryland, every county in the state besides Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Baltimore City, has now implemented Gov. Larry Hogan’s “stage one” order as it was written on May 15, according to the state’s re-opening status page. On Monday, Anne Arundel, and Howard counties fully implemented stage one, which allows retailers to operate at 50 percent of their maximum capacity. Charles and Frederick counties moved to stage one last Friday.

On Monday, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties did allow some resumption of previously-shuttered businesses, including curbside-facing retailers, manufacturing, non-essential medical procedures, and outside dining. As of now, the previously-existing mandates on patron capacity for indoor retailers that Maryland has deemed essential (including car dealerships and service areas) do remain in effect.

You can view Montgomery County’s guidelines for phase one on their Reopening Montgomery website. Prince George’s County published an outline of their modified stage one in County Executive Angela Alsobrooks’ latest newsletter.

Across the region, one consistent requirement is a mandate patrons and employees of all businesses to wear cloth face coverings while patronizing indoor retailers, or, at minimum, while working in a public-facing setting. Masks have been required for both patrons and employees in D.C. and the Maryland suburbs for a while, but Virginia just instituted a mask mandate last Friday, which will be enforced by the state Department of Health.

At the same time that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the mask mandate, he also said that all of Northern Virginia would enter “phase one” of the state’s Forward Virginia plan. Among other things, the first phase of the re-opening allows retailers to operate at 50 percent of their lowest maximum capacity, provided that they can also adhere to the standard social distancing requirements. You can view a full list of the commonwealth’s guidelines for retailers at this link.

In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser authorized the city to enter their version of a “phase one” last Friday, which resumes manufacturing, outdoor dining, and certain outpatient medical services, among other things. Non-essential retail operations are still limited to curbside service only. There are no new franchised auto dealerships in the District.

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