On March 23, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued Executive Order Number 53. The order, which will take effect tonight at 11:59 p.m., will close down recreational businesses, restaurants except for take-out and delivery, and schools. The Executive Order provides as follows:

First, all recreational and entertainment businesses are ordered closed until April 23. This includes the following:

  • Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers;

  • Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, and indoor exercise facilities;

  • Beauty salons, barber shops, spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed that would not allow people to remain six feet apart, per social distancing guidelines;

  • Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities; and

  • Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and crafts facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.

Second, all restaurants, food courts, breweries, and other dining establishments must cease all dine-in services. They may, however, continue to offer delivery and take-out services to their customers.

Third, “essential” retail businesses may remain open during their normal business hours. The Executive Order lists 13 categories of retail business deemed “essential”:

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;

  • Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;

  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;

  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;

  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;

  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;

  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores;

  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;

  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;

  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;

  • Pet and feed stores;

  • Printing and office supply stores; and

  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

Notably, any other retail businesses not included on the above list may continue to operate but must limit all in-person shopping to no more than ten patrons per establishment at the same time and maintain “proper social distancing requirements.”

Fourth, all businesses are required, to the extent possible, to adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities while in operation. Businesses offering professional services (rather than retail) may remain open but are encouraged to “utilize teleworking as much as possible.” Where teleworking is not possible, professional businesses are required to adhere to social distancing recommendations and enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and to apply the relevant guidance from state and federal authorities.

Fifth, all public and private in-person gatherings of 10 or more individuals are prohibited.

Sixth, all K-12 schools are shut down for the remainder of the school year. Child care providers may remain open but are urged to prioritize services for children of essential personnel.

If you have any questions about this Executive Order or your organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, please feel free to contact any attorney in our Washington DC Metro Office.

For a printer-friendly copy, click here.

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