D.C. Expands Face Mask Requirement – Including Mandate for Employer Provided Masks

Date   Jul 23, 2020

Executive Summary: On July 22, 2020, in a response to an increase in reported coronavirus cases in the area, the District of Columbia expanded mask requirements in a Mayoral Order that takes immediate effect.

New Mask Requirements in D.C.

In an effort to stem the rise of coronavirus cases in the region, Mayor Muriel Bowser has signed an Order that mandates the use of masks in the District of Columbia. Pursuant to the Order, all persons must wear a mask in common areas of apartments, condominiums and cooperatives. Additionally, businesses, office buildings, and other establishments open to members of the public must post signage noting that persons may not enter unless they are wearing a mask. The Order also authorizes businesses, office buildings, and other “establishments” to “exclude or attempt to eject persons” who are not wearing masks or who remove their masks.

Importantly, the Order also mandates that employers in the District of Columbia provide masks to their employees.

Going further than many other states, the D.C. Order requires individuals “leaving their residence” to wear a mask “when they are likely to come into contact with another person,” including being within six feet of another person for more than a “fleeting time.” Additionally, individuals are required to wear masks if they are operating or are a passenger in a taxi or vehicle that is part of a Transportation Network Company (such as Uber or Lyft). All passengers on or operators of any form of public transportation in the District are also required to wear a mask.

The Order does clarify that a mask is not required if a person is “actually” eating, drinking, or legally smoking or if a person is engaged in vigorous outdoor exercise and is maintaining appropriate social distance. Additionally, a mask is not required if equipment required for a job precludes wearing a mask or if a person is in an enclosed office that no one else is permitted to enter. The Order also provides an exception for individuals unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability.

Any individual or entity that knowingly violates the Order will be subject to penalties, including fines up to $1,000 per violation. Additionally, the Metropolitan Police Department is authorized to enforce these rules, except no youth under 18 years of age shall be charged with a violation.

The Order went into effect immediately and shall continue through October 9, 2020, or until the date to which the state of emergency is extended, whichever is later.

If you have any questions related to this new standard, implementation of workplace safety measures, or any other employment related issues, please contact the authors of this Alert, Anessa Abrams,, a partner in our Washington, D.C. office; B. Patrice Clair,, a partner in our Washington D.C. and Tysons Corner offices; Nancy Holt,, a partner in our Washington D.C. office; Jacki Thompson,, a partner in our Washington D.C. and Tysons Corner offices, or the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.