4 minute read | March.31.2020
As of March 30, 2020, Maryland and Virginia became the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The directive to keep people at home began just two weeks ago in California and has now been adopted by more than half the states.
On March 5, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency after three cases were confirmed in the state. The governor also placed dining restrictions on restaurants and bars. On March 23, 2020, the governor closed all non-essential businesses until further notice. However, none of those efforts had required Marylanders to stay at home. In fact, on March 23, the governor made the following announcement: “Let me be clear, we are not issuing or ordering a ‘shelter in place’ directive or forcing people to stay home.” However, as of yesterday, March 30, Governor Hogan retracted those comments. After signing his most aggressive order to-date to tackle COVID-19, Governor Hogan declared: “We are no longer asking or suggesting Marylanders to stay home. We are directing them.”
Governor Hogan’s stay-at home order closes all non-essential businesses and restricts in-person gatherings larger than 10 persons, and requires all persons living in Maryland to stay-at-home with limited exceptions:
State and local law enforcement are responsible for enforcing the order. A person who knowingly and willfully violates this order will be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction, offenders may be subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both. This Order remains effective until after termination of the state of emergency or until superseded by additional orders.
On March 23, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Three requiring all non-essential businesses to cease operations and banned all mass gatherings of 10 or more persons, effective until April 23, 2020. Essential retail businesses may remain open during normal business hours, and include:
Other brick and mortar retail businesses may continue to operate but must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 persons per establishment. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close.
The Executive Order further states professional businesses may remain open but should utilize teleworking as much as possible. Where telework is not possible, such businesses must adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and “apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.”
Executive Order Fifty-Three remains the primary guidance on what actions businesses should take. However, as discussed below, it has been amended by Executive Order Fifty-Five to remain in effect until June 10, 2020.
On March 30, 2020, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Five, which reinforces Executive Order Fifty-Three and directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, care for family or household members, obtain groceries, prescriptions or outdoor activity. All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited.
Violation of the order is a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 44-146.17 of the Code of Virginia. The executive order will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.