D.C.'s stay-at-home order goes into effect on April 1.

In conjunction with Maryland and Virginia, on Monday, March 30, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser declared Washington, D.C., under a stay-at-home order. The order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 1 and will last until April 24 unless extended or announced otherwise.

Here's how you'll be affected, what you need to know, and how life is going to change.

Read the full text of the stay-at-home order here.

Summary: Unless you are homeless, doing "essential work," or performing "essential activities" (doing something you absolutely need to do), stay at home.

[Note: If you encounter someone who's homeless, ask them if they want to call the shelter hotline at (202) 399-7092. However, if you're homeless, the stay-at-home guidelines do not apply to you.]

You can leave your house to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, seek medical attention, take care of others who need help, or exercise (see more exceptions permitted below). You can go back and forth from your job if you work at an essential business that's allowed to remain open. When you do go out, you must comply with social distancing guidelines issued by the CDC and the government of the District of Columbia

Essential Activities (When can I leave the house?)

You can leave the house to perform the following "essential activities":

  1. Obtain medical care or health care services that cannot be accessed through telehealth
    • Medical care  or "health care operations" will be defined broadly, including veterinarians & animal healthcare 
    • Includes: Hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other health care facilities, health care suppliers, home health care and assisted living services, mental health providers, or related services, etc.
    • Does not include: Exercise gyms, spas, massage studios, etc.
    • You can go pick up prescriptions or medication
    • You can drive someone else to get health care or medication
  2. Obtain food or basic household supplies (or deliver them to someone else)
    • Groceries
    • Cleaning supplies
    • OTC medication
    • Work-from-home supplies
    • Services or supplies to others that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and operation of your home 
  3. Act as a caregiver to someone else (including transporting them to obtain services or supplies they need
    • "Caregiving involves more than companionship or entertainment, but rather helps a person with activities of daily living, the supervision of children, or otherwise tends to the immediate physical needs and safety of someone who cannot attend to those needs for him or herself," the bill states.
  4. Perform or access "essential government functions", work at an "essential business", or engage in "essential travel" otherwise specified
  5. Engage in certain types of exercise ( "allowable recreational activities")

Essential Travel (What is "essential travel"?)

Essential travel is travel you need to perform and are allowed to do under the stay-at-home order. 

Overall Essential Travel Defined (When It's Okay to Travel)
  • To engage in the "essential activities" listed above
  • To transport or care for the elderly, minors, dependents, those with disabilities, etc.
  • To go back and forth from a house of worship
  • To travel back and forth from a school in order to get remote learning supplies or meals
  • To comply with a court order or instructions from law enforcement
  • To go back home from wherever you are (if your house is in D.C. and you're outside D.C.; or if your house is outside D.C. and you're in D.C.)
  • Other exceptions noted here
Public Transportation & Rideshare Guidelines
  • When using public transportation (riding the Metro, etc.) for essential travel/activities, you must comply with social distancing requirements as much as possible (Drivers are encouraged to sanitize surfaces frequently, and passengers are encouraged to enter/exit through the back door of buses, etc. to reduce the driver's risk of exposure)
  • Rideshare drivers must wipe down all surfaces a passenger may have touched after every ride performed, and can't have more than two passengers in the car at a time

Violations and Enforcement (What if I just don't follow it?)

  • Individuals who willingly violate this order can be charged with a misdemeanor and face fines up to $5,000 or (no more than) 90 days in jail if convicted
  • Businesses, individuals, or "entities" that knowingly violate this order and essential business guidelines are subject to "full civil criminal, and administrative penalties," may face $1,000 in fines, and/or could have their business license revoked
  • Officers will continue to use a loudspeaker and a script when they encounter large groups of people violating rules regarding public gatherings

Social Distancing Requirements (What are the rules for when I'm in public?)

If you're outside or in public for one of the reasons listed above, you must follow social distancing requirements. 

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others at all times
  • Wash your house for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after touching anything someone infected may have touched, and otherwise do so as much as you reasonably can
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze (preferably into a tissue), and do so into your sleeve or elbow, NOT your hands
  • No handshakes

Definitions & Timelines (What is a stay-at-home order?)

"A stay-at-home order is an order from an authority to restrict movements of populations as a mass quarantine strategy for suppressing or mitigating an epidemic or pandemic by ordering residents to stay home except for essential tasks or going to work in essential businesses." — Wikipedia

  • On March 11, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued declarations of emergency and a declaration of a public health emergency
  • On March 20, D.C. extended these declarations through April 24
  • On March 30, D.C. issued a stay-at-home order from April 1 through April 24 (unless otherwise extended)

Which states are currently under stay-at-home orders?

  • As of noon on March 31, at least 30 states, as well as D.C. Many of these states have large populations, including California and New York, meaning more than two thirds of Americans are under some kind of restrictions.
  • You can find an updated list here.

How many cases of COVID-19 does the District of Columbia have right now?

What helps you survive stay-at-home orders, self-quarantine, or social distancing? Let us know how you're getting by.