WASHINGTON - The Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines advising people to wear masks or face coverings earlier this month as the U.S. fights to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Throughout the crisis, the CDC has stressed social distancing among Americans - which has prompted states and cities in the DMV to shut down non-essential businesses.
According to the CDC, people should stand at least six feet apart in public.
While many governments in the DMV are establishing guidelines for masks, the CDC says coverings are no substitute for social distancing.
COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among more than 2 million people worldwide – with more than 600,000 of those cases diagnosed in the U.S.
The CDC initially hesitated making such recommendations because of the dearth of personal protective equipment among healthcare workers and first responders.
They are recommending simple cloth coverings or masks, but not N95 masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers.
The U.S. surgeon general has released a simple-to-follow video demonstrating how a mask can be made without any sewing.
District of Columbia
Shoppers in the District must wear face coverings. Workers are also expected to wear face coverings whenever it’s feasible.
Grocery stores are also required to post signage indicating that customers must wear masks.
During a news conference last week, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she expects to enforce the measure.
Recently, the mayor expanded the measure to hotel workers, and to anyone riding in taxis, rideshare, or public transportation.
Metro is asking riders to wear face coverings – specifically on buses, trains, and Metro Access vehicles.
In addition, customers are asked to wear coverings in rail stations, at bus stops and in other transit facilities.
Metro says it will not deny transportation to people who refrain from wearing face coverings, but they are strongly encouraged to do so.
The same guidance applies to employees.
Governor Larry Hogan announced on Wednesday that he had signed a state-wide order mandating that all Marylanders wear face coverings at retail establishments, and also on public transportation.
The Governor's order does not go into effect until Saturday at 7 a.m.
A number of counties in Maryland had already issued guidelines regarding face coverings.
Anne Arundel County
Shoppers in retail stores in Anne Arundel County are required to wear face coverings. In addition, retail workers who are in contact with the public or coworkers are required to wear face coverings.
The executive order does not cover children under the age of 2, or those who have trouble breathing.
N95 masks are not required, and should be reserved for healthcare workers.
Violations of the order are subject to a maximum $500 fine.
Customers at grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and retail establishments should wear face coverings. Cloth masks are acceptable.
Retailers should purchase face coverings for employees and encourage employees to wear face coverings – especially those are in contact with customers. Employers shouldn’t forbid employees from wearing face coverings.
Customers in grocery stores, pharmacies, retail establishments and those using public transportation are required to wear face coverings.
A face covering can be a homemade cloth mask, scarf or bandana. Children under the age of 2 should not wear masks, nor should people who have trouble breathing. N95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.
There are no civil or criminal penalties for shoppers who refrain from wearing coverings, but stores have a right to turn those customers away.
Businesses must provide face coverings for employees, whether they interact with customers or not.
Frederick County – Effective Thursday, April 16
Customers and employees at essential retail businesses are required to wear face coverings.
Those businesses must provide coverings for employees, and those employees must be permitted to wear them.
Prince George’s County
All patrons shopping in grocery stores, pharmacies or large chain retail establishments must wear face coverings.
Those who use “TheBus” mass transit system in Prince George’s county must also wear masks or face coverings.
Governor Ralph Northam has encouraged Virginians to wear face coverings, or masks, and says no one in the state will be penalized for wearing coverings.