On August 13, 2020, the Mayor signed Bill 23-870, the Protecting Businesses and Workers from COVID-19 Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (“Act”). The Act will be in effect for 90 days. The Council is separately moving the Act on a temporary basis, which if enacted would be in effect for 225 days after completing congressional review. The Act requires by statute that employers adopt the COVID-19 workplace protections specified in Mayor’s Order 2020-080, prohibits retaliation, and provides for enforcement.


Protecting Businesses and Workers from COVID-19 Emergency Amendment Act of 2020


Workplace Protections

  • During the public health emergency, employers in the District must adopt and implement social distancing and worker protection policies to prevent transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace that adhere to the requirements of Mayor’s Order 2020-080 and all subsequent Mayor’s Orders.
  • An employer may establish a policy to require an employee who tests positive to report the positive test to the employer. An employer may not disclose the identity of such an employee except to the Department of Health or another D.C. or federal agency responsible for and engaged in contact tracing and the containment of community spread of COVID-19.



  • No employer or agent may take adverse employment action against an employee for:
    • Refusing to serve a customer or client, or to work within 6 feet of an individual, who is not complying with the workplace protections;
    • Testing positive for COVID-19, provided that the employee did not physically report to the workplace after receiving a positive test result;
    • Being exposed to someone with COVID-19 and needing to quarantine;
    • Being sick and waiting for a COVID-19 test result;
    • Caring for or seeking to provide care for someone who is sick with COVID-19 symptoms or who is quarantined; or
    • Taking actions to secure any right or protection contained in the Act or to prevent or stop a violation of the Act.
  • An employer may require an employee who has tested positive to refrain from entering the workplace until a medical professional has cleared the employee to return to the workplace or until a period of quarantine recommended by the D.C. Department of Health or Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has elapsed.



  • The Mayor may enforce the requirements by conducting investigations, holding hearings, and assessing penalties. The Mayor may assess administrative penalties of up to $50 for a violation of the workplace protection requirements and $500 for a violation of the retaliation prohibition.
  • The Attorney General may enforce the requirements by conducting investigations and instituting actions.


Procurement and Grants

  • The Chief Procurement Officer is authorized during the public health emergency and for 90 days thereafter to enter into an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (“IDIQ”) contract for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other goods or supplies that permit an entity that is or is similar to a local business enterprise to place orders under the IDIQ contract at the prices specified in the contract.
  • Beginning October 1, 2020, during the public health emergency and subject to the availability of funds, the Mayor may issue grants to eligible small businesses of up to $1,000 for the purchase of or reimbursement for purchases of PPE made on or after August 13, 2020.


Mayor’s Order 2020-080: Wearing of Masks in the District of Columbia to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19


General Mask Requirements

  • Persons must wear a mask in the common areas of apartments, condominiums, and cooperatives.
  • Businesses, office buildings, and other establishments open to members of the public shall post signage on their exterior doors stating that a person may not enter unless the person is wearing a mask.
  • Such establishments must exclude or attempt to eject those who are not wearing masks or who remove their masks.
  • Employers must provide masks to employees.
  • Persons leaving their residences must wear a mask when they are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time.
  • Persons who are operating or a passenger in a taxi or a Transportation Network Company vehicle, or any form of public transit, must wear a mask at all such times.


Mask Exceptions

  • A person is a resident or guest in a private home or apartment.
  • A person is actually eating, drinking, or legally smoking.
  • A person is engaged in vigorous outdoor exercise and is maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet from every other person.
  • A person is in the water at a swimming pool.
  • A person is in an enclosed office that no one else is permitted to enter.
  • A person is aged 2 years old or younger.
  • A person is unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability, or is physically unable to remove a mask.
  • A person is giving a speech or broadcast or an audience, provided that no one is within six feet of the speaker.
  • A deaf or hard of hearing person needs to read the lips of a speaker.
  • The equipment required for a job precludes the wearing of a mask and the person is wearing that equipment, or when wearing a mask would endanger public safety.
  • A person has been lawfully asked to remove the mask for facial recognition purposes.


Note: General social distancing requirements are specified in Mayor’s Order 2020-054:

  • Maintaining at least 6-feet of distance from other individuals.
  • Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer frequently, or after contact with potentially infected surfaces, to the greatest extent feasible.
  • Covering coughs or sneezes, preferably with a tissue immediately disposed of, or into the sleeve or elbow, not hands.
  • Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces.
  • Not shaking hands.


Additional industry-specific requirements and guidance are available at dc.gov/phasetwo


This material is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for legal advice.  For legal assistance with an employment or business matter, contact our Firm through the “Contact Us” page on our website, or calling us at 202-795-9999.