March 31, 2020 at 12:47 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Bowser issues D.C. stay-at-home order
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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Maryland Gov, Larry Hogan in issuing an official stay-at-home order for D.C. residents in an effort to control the rapidly spreading coronavirus infection rate.

Bowser said the order provides the force of law to her earlier directive calling on city residents to stay at home except to perform essential activities.

“Our message remains the same: stay home,” the mayor said in a statement. “Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19,” she said. “Many people want to know how they can help right now, and for most people this is how – by staying home.”

Similar to the Virginia and Maryland orders, Bowser’s order says residents may only leave their residences to engage in essential activities, which it says includes obtaining medical care that cannot be provided through phone consultations.

The order also includes as “essential” activities obtaining food and essential household goods; performing or accessing essential governmental functions; working at essential businesses; engaging in essential travel; or engaging in allowable recreational activities.

It defines allowable recreational activities as outdoor activity “with household members” that complies with social distancing requirements and that could include, among other things, walking, running, dog-walking, or gardening.

“Any individual who willfully violates the stay-at-home order may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both,” a statement released by the mayor’s office says.

As of 7 p.m. Monday night the city’s Department of Health disclosed there were 94 new positive coronavirus cases in the city from one day earlier, bringing the total D.C. positive cases to 495 individuals.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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