DC Closes Nonessential Businesses, DMV Centers to Stop Coronavirus

D.C. ordered nonessential businesses to close and stop some in-person city customer services to promote social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic

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Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered nonessential businesses to close and stopped in-person customer service at the Department of Motor Vehicle and other city offices to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. She also prohibited gatherings of 10 people or more.

Bowser issued the order Tuesday "to temporarily cease all non-essential business activities, including 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."

The order goes into effect Wednesday at 10 p.m. and continues through April 24.

Grocery stores, restaurants offering takeout, banks, automotive repair, bike shops, veterinarians, hospitals and clinics are among establishments that can stay open.

The city has adopted a number of measures to promote social distancing and encourage people to stay in their homes, hoping to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

D.C. students were scheduled this week to return to class via distance learning.

What to Know

  • The global coronavirus pandemic has prompted leaders in D.C., Maryland and Virignia to temporarily close schools and some businesses
  • Coronavirus causes symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath
  • Most people have mild symtoms and can recover in about two weeks, while more serious cases can require hospital care

City leaders stressed that it's not a time for vacation and said teachers are available by phone, email and more to students. Bowser said the city has established the DC Education Equity Fund, which aims to ensure student have the technology and internet access and basic necessities to learn remotely.

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Starting Wednesday, March 25, the DMV, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and Department of Transportation are not available for in-person customer service, the city announced Tuesday.

The deadlines for government documents, inspections and other requirements are postponed, the mayor said.

The expiration date for driver's licenses, vehicle registrations and other DMV-issued documents that were set to expire between March 1 and April 28 is extended to May 15. All tickets will remain in their current status until May 15.

DCRA functions will be moved online, including permit and plan reviews. Business licenses that expire during the emergency will be considered valid until 45 days after the city-issued emergency ends.

Any public space permits must be applied for online.

Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia

COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

In-person services are expected to resume April 27, which is also when D.C. has said students can go back to class.

The city is also working to ensure that health care workers have child care options available. Preliminarily, some centers will reopen Thursday for certain families, according to the mayor's office.

D.C.'s confirmed coronavirus case count rose above 150 this week. The majority of the new positive cases were people under 40 years old, with the youngest a 1-year-old girl and the oldest a 73-year-old woman.

D.C. residents are encouraged to stay inside unless absolutely necessary. The city has issued several orders to encourage social distancing, including barring dine-in service at restaurants, closing schools and restricting access to the Tidal Basin, where many visited to see cherry trees in bloom.

Officials will "move along" anyone who is seen in public in a group, the mayor said.

The DC-Area Coronavirus Outbreak in Pictures

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