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Beaches to reopen 5 p.m. May 22

Staff Writer
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Governor John Carney announced Thursday, May 14, that restrictions will be lifted on Delaware beaches and community pools at 5 p.m. Friday, May 22. In addition, ice cream shops and trucks will reopen at 5 p.m. Friday, May 15.

Carney made the announcement after consultation with public health experts at the Delaware Division of Public Health and the mayors of Delaware’s beach towns. 

“Summer at the beach and the pool is a huge part of life for so many Delawareans. As we ease our way into a new normal, we’re trying to find ways for Delawareans to enjoy the outdoors and the company of their families,” said Carney. “I want to be very clear to our friends who want to travel here from outside the state. While we hope one day soon to be able to welcome you to our beaches, that time has not yet come. We need to reopen Delaware in a controlled way that doesn’t put anyone at risk.”

Delaware’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers and ban on short term rentals remain in effect. Non-Delawareans who have been in Delaware for at least 14 days will be permitted to use the beaches. To enforce quarantines on out-of-staters, Delaware State Police will station troopers along popular routes. Travelers will be stopped, asked a series of questions, and given information about the 14-day quarantine requirement. Violations of the emergency declaration, or any of its modifications, constitute a criminal offense.

Strict social distancing and hygiene requirements will accompany the reopening of Delaware’s beaches. Beachgoers must maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves and anyone outside their household. Face coverings must be worn on the boardwalk and are encouraged on the beach.

“I cannot emphasize strongly enough that during this everyone must continue to keep a six foot distance from others, and to wear face coverings when out, even when going to enjoy activities permitted under these limited re-opening conditions,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “It's incredibly important that everyone exercise common sense and follow the restrictions so we don't have a re-resurgence in cases of COVID-19 and are forced to tighten them again.”

Reopening community pools are limited to 20% of regular capacity. Swim lessons and swim team practices are not permitted. Children under 12-years-old must be accompanied by an adult. More guidance for reopening pools is available here.

State park beaches at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island may limit capacity to vehicles in order to enforce social distancing. Surf fishing access may also be limited. The restriction on the number of individuals per surf fishing vehicle will be lifted on May 22, but everyone in the vehicle must still be from the same household.

According to organizer Richard Bishop, the Reopen Delaware rally scheduled for this Saturday, May 16, in Rehoboth Beach is still happening.

Towns must:

  • Clean bathrooms, boardwalk railings and benches multiple times per day.
  • Close arcade games on boardwalk.
  • Demarcate (using tape, cones, etc.) six feet intervals in front of retail stores on boardwalks where lines are likely to form, entrances to the beach or any other area where congregating or waiting in lines is likely to occur.
  • Identify enforcement teams.

Towns are recommended to:

  • Implement systems to limit capacity (like timed or day passes) on the beach.
  • Limit parking spaces.
  • Limit access points.
  • Designate "beach ambassadors" to educate beachgoers about social distancing and serve as liaisons to law enforcement.
  • Station beach ambassadors at access points. 

Beachgoers are recommended to:

  • Wear face coverings on the beach. Face coverings are required on the boardwalk.
  • Remain six feet apart at all times
  • Continue to shelter in place if an individual with underlying health conditions or over 65 years old.
  • Avoid water fountains.

Beach vendors must:

  • Wear face coverings.
  • Have customers wait in line six feet apart from each other.
  • Food and beverage concession vendors must follow restaurant regulations and provide only take-out or delivery service. 
  • Vendors of rental items such as umbrellas, chairs, mats, kayaks, etc. must properly disinfect between each use/rental.