DC will now require anyone engaging in non-essential travel to or from a hotspot to self-quarantine for 14 days when they come to the District, effective July 27. The mayor’s order affects both DC residents who travel to hotspots for non-essential reasons, and hotspot residents who come to DC for non-essential reasons.
DC health will post a list of hotspots on coronavirus.dc.gov on Monday, and will update that list every two weeks. Maryland and Virginia will be exempt from that list.
Individuals who have to travel to hotspots for essential purposes (such as members of Congress) will not be required to self-quarantine, but should stay in their homes unless they have to leave for essential activities. Any students coming back to their DC campus from hotspots will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
It’s unclear how the city will actually enforce the order, and whether people could be fined for non-compliance. When asked about these things, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said “people should…monitor their activities and do what is right for their neighbors and the District.” Colleges and universities will be required to maintain a list of students that need to quarantine, and hotels will be required to make all travelers aware of local quarantine guidelines.
Previously, DC Department of Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said many of the positive Covid cases in DC were people who had vacationed in hotspots like Florida, Texas, and the Carolinas. DC is currently increasing in community spread, and the transmission rate (which measures how much the epidemic is growing) has been above the target threshold of 1 in recent days. Only 2.9 percent of cases in the District can be traced back to another positive case.
Additionally, DC won’t be issuing any additional arts and entertainment waivers until further notice, and is considering dialing back some Phase 2 activities, including personal services, indoor dining, 50-person limit on gatherings, recreational sports, and elective procedures. Bowser says there aren’t clear trends to point to any one activity that’s causing the majority of Covid cases.
In today’s press conference, Bowser expressed concern that the many of the basic preventative measures that help prevent spread have become “background noise,” and urged people to continue to social distance, wash their hands, restrict their activities as much as possible. She also reiterated that her new mask order requires DC residents to wear a mask when they’re outside of their house. “If you see someone outside in public, they should have a mask,” she said.