DC Orders All Grocery Stores, Outdoor Markets to Enforce Social Distancing

Farmers and outdoor markets no longer qualify as essential businesses and must get a waiver to operate

A worker wearing a protective mask stocks produce before the opening of Gus's Community Market, March 27, 2020, in San Francisco.
Ben Margot/AP

All grocery stores, food banks, convenience stores, outdoor markets and other places where people buy food in Washington, D.C., must enforce certain social distancing guidelines, the city's mayor ordered Wednesday night.

Mayor Muriel Bowser's order stipulates that all "retail food sellers" do the following:

  • Post signs at the entrance telling customers to: wear a mask or mouth covering, avoid entering if they have symptoms of COVID-19, keep 6 feet apart from people who aren't in their household, cough or sneeze away from others and into a tissue or elbow, not shake hands or engage in unnecessary physical contact, quickly shop alone or with family
  • Signs should also encourage people to shop online and give information for curbside and home delivery options
  • Limit the number of people allowed inside at one time
  • Require customers to stay 6 feet apart and create markers where there are lines to go inside or checkout
  • Where possible, mark paths and require store aisles to be one-way
  • Provide hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes at entry and exit ways
  • Tell customers that if they can, they must fill their own bags at checkout
  • Implement regular disinfection procedures for cleaning high-touch surface areas and post the procedures at the entrance
  • Cease use of any hot-bars, salad bars or buffet-style stations
  • Minimize bare hand contact with food and place signs encouraging customers to only touch what they intend to purchase

Farmers markets and the fish market at The Wharf must have waivers to operate and they are no longer considered essential businesses. Markets have to submit a plan to the D.C. government at and outline how they will operate and enforce social distancing protocols. That plan must then be approved for the market to obtain a waiver.

Restaurants and facilities that prepare food for delivery, carryout or "grab and go" are not included in the order. Schools, senior centers and other places that provide free food are also not included.

The order also states tennis and golf are no longer allowable recreational activities.

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