Metro Weekly

D.C. orders all nonessential businesses to close

Mayor encourages District residents to stay home, but does not issue shelter-in-place order

muriel bowser, mayor, dc, covid-19, coronavirus, lockdown, shutdown
Mayor Muriel Bowser

Mayor Muriel Bowser is ordering all nonessential businesses, including salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, an tanning salons to close as the number of diagnoses of COVID-19-related illnesses continues to climb.

Businesses considered “essential” generally include those in the fields of communications, manufacturing, energy production, emergency services, transportation, health care, research, financial services, information technology, and food production and distribution.

“Nonessential businesses” are considered by the federal government to be those that do not involve critical infrastructure operations. They will need to close by 10 p.m. on March 25, and remain closed through April 24.

Bowser has previously announced a series of measures intended to promote social distancing and urge Washingtonians to stay home in hopes of slowing the virus’s spread.

One of those orders closed all bars and nightclubs, with a subsequent order closing all restaurants and taverns, although some establishments have been allowed to remain open for takeout or delivery service only. Local health providers have also scaled back services except in cases of medical emergency.

Starting on Wednesday, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and the Department of Transportation will close all in-person services and move a significant number of services online.

Expiration dates for driver’s licenses, ID cards, and vehicle registrations or inspections have been extended until May 15. Tickets will remain in their current status until May 15, with no additional penalties while the DMV is closed.

In-person services for the DMV, DCRA, and DDOT are expected to resume on April 27, the same day that D.C. public schools are expected to restart in-person classes.

D.C. schools are currently closed, but students have been asked to take part in class via “distance learning,” where teachers offer guidance or instruction remotely.

To assist with that, Bowser announced the establishment of the DC Education Equity Fund, which seeks to connect students with the needed technology and Internet access required to access those online platforms. Already, $1.1 million has been raised for the fund.

“The goal for all of us is to keep our students safe, engaged and learning,” Bowser said in a statement. “We are grateful for everyone in our community who is stepping up during these unprecedented times — students, families, and community partners. We will be learning together, and we will get through this together.”

Bowser said on a phone call with D.C. Council members that it is possible the District will join Virginia in closing schools for the rest of the academic year, but no such decision is imminent, reports The Washington Post. The mayor has said she will consult with the D.C. Department of Health and determine whether containment measures are working before canceling school.

D.C.’s confirmed cases of COVID-19-related illness reached 137 on Monday, with the majority of new infections occurring in people under 40 years old.

People out in public in groups that are obviously not family members will be urged to “move along,” Bowser told NBC4. She stopped short of issuing a “shelter-in-place” order, as other mayors and governors have done.

“My message to residents of Washington, D.C., and visitors is to stay at home,” she said.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include additional information on closing times.

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