If you own a grocery store or shop in one (so everybody listen up), Mayor Bowser has issued a new executive order that could affect your essential shopping trip to raid the cleaning aisle of Whole Foods. On April 8, 2020, Mayor Bowser issued Executive Order 2020-058, effective immediately. The order contains new rules and regulations for “Retail Food Sellers” which are grocery stores, convenience stores, food banks, and other non-restaurant food stores. This new order is essentially for operators of these Retail Food Sellers to begin actively enforcing social distancing requirements within in their stores. To Retail Food Sellers and their customers alike, here is what Mayor Bowser’s new Executive Order means for you.
If you own a Retail Food Store, you must post signage at the front entrance of your building that lists out what is required in your store. All customers must wear masks or mouth coverings whileshopping. Shoppers must shop alone or with members of their household, and must refrain from physical contact with anyone else in the store. As always, the magic six feet of separation is in effect. If you haven’t already been maintaining these rules, now retailers have been given the go ahead to bar you from the store. In addition, Retail Food Sellers are being ordered to limit the amount of customers in the building at one time and are being asked to make aisles one-way if possible. Self-checkout counters must be blocked if they cannot maintain a six foot distance fromother counters.
A number of other cleanliness standards have been ordered as well. Customers must fill their own bags and all high touch surfaces (carts, baskets, checkout counters, etc.) must be sanitized regularly. Sadly, all self-serve style counters must also be closed. This includes buffet and salad bars, but does not include regular produce aisles. Sorry hot wing lovers, quarantine just got a little harder.
For Retail Food Store managers, Mayor Bowser has also implemented some requirements for employee safety. Some of these are no brainers, like forbidding sick workers from coming to work and checking on worker’s health before they start a shift. When possible, employees shouldclose an aisle that is being restocked in order to protect workers. Most importantly, by April 20, 2020, all Retail Food Sellers will be required to have installed plexi-glass dividers between customers and employees if the register serves more than fifty people a day.
These are many of the same rules we have been given since the start of stay-at-home, but now Mayor Bowser is requiring Retail Food Sellers to enforce these rules in their buildings or face punishment. If any entity knowingly violates this order, it will be subject to potential fines and suspension or revocation of their license. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Department of Health will be conducting inspections and will issue notices of infractionsfor violations.
Like Mayor Bowser’s other orders, it remains to be seen whether or not these orders will actuallybe enforced by the DC government. This past weekend, the Health Department did come down of the fish markets in the Wharf, which will be covered in another blog post. It is clear that the city is not messing around anymore and is determined to get people to follow along. If you find yourself or your business suddenly in violation of any of Mayor Bowser’s executive order, make sure to contact Scrofano Law PC, the Social Distancing Law Firm fighting for the people. Stay safe, stay healthy, and as always, stay six feet away from everyone. The sooner this ends, the sooner the Nationals can play, and I am itching for that World Series banner ceremony.