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Open or closed? Essential businesses during the coronavirus pandemic

Michelin star rated restaurant boarded up on 14th Street NW.
Michelin star rated restaurant boarded up on 14th Street NW. (Paul Schwartzman)
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As of Wednesday, April 1, the entire national capital region will be under “stay-at-home” orders, which ban residents from leaving their homes except to perform “essential activities” and interact with “essential businesses.”

What exactly is an essential business?

Each jurisdiction has its own list, but in general, local and state officials are abiding by guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. An advisory from the agency lists jobs and industries that are essential to the country’s coronavirus response, including health care, communications and government facilities.

In Maryland and D.C., most retail stores have been asked to close, but big box stores like Home Depot are allowed to remain open, along with auto-repair shops and bike shops. Virginia allows brick-and-mortar retail stores to stay open as long as they serve fewer than 10 people at a time.

Have you seen police enforcing the ‘stay-at-home’ orders? Let us know.

Food is still considered essential, so is alcohol. In addition to supermarkets, groceries and liquor stores being open, restaurants can still offer delivery and takeout, though table service is prohibited.

Here are the official orders from the District, Maryland and Virginia. And here’s a quick listing of what you need to know throughout the region:


●●●Healthcare providers like hospitals and clinics.

●Grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, and farmers markets with restrictions.

●State parks in Virginia and Maryland, and Rock Creek Park in the District.

●Banks and other financial institutions.

●Laundromats and dry cleaners.

●Home improvement stores (like Home Depot), hardware stores, building supply retailers, auto repair shops.

●Plumbers, electricians, HVAC service and cable, phone and Internet providers.

●Pet stores.

Restaurant takeout and delivery. Food trucks are also allowed to continue operating.

●Beer, wine and liquor stores.

● Stores that help people maintain modes of transport, such as bike shops and auto-repair shops.

What the stay-at-home orders in the DMV mean for you

Closed across the region:

●Theaters, performing arts centers, nightclubs, concert venues, museums and other indoor entertainment centers.

●Fitness centers, gyms and other indoor sports facilities.

●Beauty salons, barbershops, tanning salons, tattoo shops, spas, massage studios. (In Maryland, they do not need to close but must regularly disinfect and follow CDC guidelines on social distancing.)

●Casinos, racetracks and historic horse-racing facilities.

●Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs.

Also closed in the District:

●Recreation centers and playgrounds, public parks, athletic fields and basketball courts.

●Door-to-door solicitations and tour services.

●Clothing stores.

This file will be updated as new information becomes available.

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