Mayor Orders Closure of Non-Essential Business

Essential Businesses Defined in Order

Mayor Bowser speaks with Mike Bowers, proprietor of Eastern Market business Bowers Fancy Dairy Products in this file photo. Photo: A. Lightman

The Mayor has officially issued the order to close non-essential services.

Mayor Muriel Bowser issued Mayor’s Order 2020-053: Closure of Non-Essential Businesses and Prohibition on Large Gatherings During Public Health Emergency for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tuesday evening. The Order requires temporary closure of the on-site operation of all non-essential businesses and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people.

The non-essential business activities that must be suspended include few surprises, and  include tour guides and touring services; gyms, health clubs, spas, and massage establishments; theaters, auditoriums, and other places of large gatherings; nightclubs; hair, nail, and tanning salons and barbershops; tattoo parlors; sales not involved in essential services; retail clothing stores; and professional services not devoted to assisting essential business operations.

Essential businesses are more broadly defined, and include

  • Healthcare and public health operations, including hospitals and primary care facilities and pharmacies, but also dentists, medical marijuana dispensaries and veterinary care.
  • Food and household products, including grocery stores, farmers markets, convenient stores and liquors stores, or anyone who sells food, alcohol or cleaning and personal products, as well as dry cleaners and laundromats and medical marijuana cultivation centers.
  • Restaurants can still sell food for delivery or carry out, including food trucks and fast food, but food cannot be sold ‘self-service’ like at a buffet or a salad bar.
  • All social services, communications and information technology, energy and automotice companies (including gas stations and gas repair), banks and schools are also considered essential.
  • Bike shops, sales and repair are also considered essential, together with transportation services and delivery. Construction and building trades are also all exempt, including big box supply and hardware stores.
  • Professional business trades such as legal, tax and accounting services are exempt to assist with essential business and government functions.
  • Childcare facilities are also permitted to be open, if they prioritize services for children of essential employees and comply with guidance from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) for Child Car Providers and Families Related to Coronavirus (COVID-10).

The Order goes into effect on March 25, 2020, at 10:00 p.m., through April 24, 2020. You can see the full text online at

For more information on the District’s response, visit