What coronavirus Phase 1 reopening looks like around the DC area

People wearing face masks walk past a mural in front of a store displaying a hopeful message amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 13, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Some parts of Maryland and Virginia began relaxing coronavirus restrictions on May 15, after nearly two months.

But in the immediate D.C. area, including the District itself, and the Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs, most of the coronavirus restrictions are staying in place for now.

See what your county is doing and their timelines for entering the first phase of reopening in the roundup below.


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced a gradual easing of pandemic-related restrictions starting May 15.

Under Phase One of the Maryland recovery plan, retail businesses can reopen at 50% capacity; churches and other houses of worship can reopen their doors for services at 50% capacity; and barbershops and hair salons can reopen by appointment-only at half capacity. Manufacturing can also resume with safety measures in place.

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However, Hogan also gave local jurisdictions the OK to move more slowly at easing restrictions.

  • Anne Arundel County says its reopening plan will restart manufacturing operations. Nonessential retail businesses in the county will not reopen but can offer curbside pickup services. Hair salons and beauty salons can reopen by appointment-only, but only one customer will be allowed inside at a time, per the county’s new rules. Religious gatherings will also continue to be restricted.
  • Baltimore County says it will largely continue existing restrictions. Retail stores that were previously closed can reopen, but only for curbside pickup and delivery. No in-store shopping is permitted. Barbershops, hair salons and nail salons in the county have to remain closed. Inside religious gatherings also remain prohibited.
  • Calvert County says it is following Hogan’s guidance for Phase One of the reopening. Separately, it extended its local state of emergency an additional 30 days, meaning government buildings are closed to the public.
  • Charles County says it is ready to move to a Phase 1 reopening starting May 29. Retail shops, hair salons and barbershops and religious institutions will all be allowed to reopen at 50% occupancy.
  • Frederick County says it’s moving into the first phase of the recovery plan with some tweaks. Retailers of any size can reopen for curbside pickup. Small retailers (less than 10,000 square feet) can reopen but only at 50% capacity. Animal adoption facilities, pet grooming facilities and car washes can reopen. Face coverings must be worn by customers and staff inside all businesses and public spaces, and physical distancing must be observed.
  • In Howard County, retail shops, hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen starting May 29 at 50% capacity. Retailers are encouraged to continue providing curbside service. Hair salons and barbershops must operate by appointment only, and clients and staff must face masks. Religious institutions will be permitted to hold outdoor services for up to 250 people. Indoor services are still limited to 10 people.
  • Montgomery County is keeping coronavirus restrictions in place. County officials say they will begin easing restrictions when there are sustained decreases in the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
  • Prince George’s County held on to coronavirus restrictions, and County Executive Angela Alsobrooks issued a countywide stay-at-home order that lasts through June 1. On May 21, Alsobrooks said that the county is on its way to a modified reopening June 1, provided current coronavirus data trends continue.


Much of Virginia moved into the first phase of a gradual reopening May 15.

Under the first phase of the recovery plan, retailers can welcome more customers into their stores — from a 10-person limit up to 50% capacity. Restaurants can reopen outdoor seating to patrons at 50% capacity. Attendance at places of worship can expand from a 10-person limit to 50% of normal capacity.

However, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order delaying the reopening throughout Northern Virginia until May 29.

  • The Northern Virginia counties staying in “Phase Zero” are: Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg and Vienna. Phase Zero means restaurants remain takeout and delivery only; nonessential retail stores are limited to 10 people; and places of worship are limited to 10 people.While still in Phase Zero, Fairfax and Arlington Counties have made a decision to cancel summer camp programs, and Loudoun County is postponing its decision until after the county enters Phase One. However, Fairfax County parks will reopen by Memorial Day weekend.
  • Stafford County is moving into Phase One of the recovery plan. Most county buildings and facilities are reopening for in-person services with some additional safety measures. Restaurants that want to reopen outdoor dining areas need to get approval from the health department and the Alcohol Beverage Control Authority.

Other jurisdictions that are delaying the Phase One reopening include the city of Richmond and Accomack County on the Eastern Shore.

While holding off to start Phase One, may


  • D.C. could begin a phased reopening May 29, if data continues to show improvements, Mayor Muriel Bowser said. “We will be in a posture to begin a phased reopening next Friday, May the 29th, in Washington, D.C. Let me be clear about what this is and what it isn’t,” she added. “It is not an on and off switch. We will not be able to go back to life as we enjoyed it in February. But we are incrementally adding activities back in our lives, which we all miss and are all eager to get back to.”She had previously extended the District’s stay-at-home order through June 8, saying the rising case numbers and deaths in the District do not warrant easing coronavirus restrictions. The original stay-at-home order expired on May 15.

The beaches

  • In Ocean City, Maryland, officials lifted a ban on lodging restrictions in the seaside town. Previously, hotels and other lodgings were barred except for essential guests. The weekend of May 9, Ocean City reopened its boardwalk and beaches for people to walk along for recreation.
  • Many of the most popular summer beach destinations in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware — Virginia Beach, Ocean City and Rehoboth, among others — will reopen further for swimming and sunbathing Memorial Day weekend. There will still be some restrictions in place, including physical distancing rules and recommendations to wear masks or other face coverings.
Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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