Headed to the Delaware beaches this weekend? Here's what you need to know
Looking to catch some sunshine at the Delaware beaches this weekend?
June has finally arrived and so have the summer vibes as more cars stuffed with colorful beach chairs and stacked with bicycles make their way to the coast.
Whether it's your first visit back to the beaches or a routine weekend trip, you may want a reminder of what to expect – and we've got you covered.
If you’re planning a beach visit the weekend of June 4, this guide will help answer questions ranging from mask-wearing to dining to parking.
To mask or not to mask?
There is no longer a mask mandate in Delaware.
Fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks in most outdoor and indoor settings.
All Delaware beach towns have followed the state's example and lifted any local mask requirements.
The state says unvaccinated individuals should continue wearing masks, but it has no way of enforcing that without a way of knowing who is vaccinated and who isn't.
"Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent infection, but if someone is not able or unwilling, mask-wearing is the key to protect against contracting and spreading COVID-19," said Mary Fenimore, marketing specialist at the Delaware Division of Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people continue wearing masks when traveling by public transportation and in other areas such as doctors' offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Private businesses, including restaurants and retail stores, can establish their own rules.
If shopping at the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth Beach, for example, visitors are encouraged to bring a mask with them because each retailer can enforce its own mask-wearing rules inside the stores.
Some grocery stores are mask optional, while others require face coverings. People can look for signs or ask an employee before choosing to go mask-free.
What to expect in restaurants and bars
With the state reopening and more people getting vaccinated, some restaurants are seeing record numbers of people dining out.
Because the expected influx of people at the beaches could put even more pressure on those that are already short-staffed, managers and owners remind people to be patient.
The widespread staffing challenge means some restaurants may change their hours or experience delays, too. It may be wise to make early reservations, follow your favorite spots on social media or call ahead to stay updated.
There are also no more capacity limits or social distancing requirements in restaurants.
While the governor's most recent emergency order does not set any specific social distance requirements for businesses, the Division of Public Health is encouraging and supporting businesses "that choose to be more protective than required," Fenimore said in an email statement.
As a reminder, Delaware businesses – including restaurants and bars – can still choose to require masks or social distancing for their employees and customers.
Something else visitors will notice: People no longer have to be seated at bars, and dance floors can open without a plan pre-approved by the state Division of Public Health.
Outdoor dining remains popular, and several restaurants have added seating in parking lots, sidewalks or additional patios and decks.
In Rehoboth Beach, restaurants can continue to use public sidewalks for outdoor dining through Oct. 31. Nearly 50 businesses are offering dining or retail racks on Rehoboth sidewalks as of early May.
Parking and transportation
All resort towns from Lewes to Fenwick Island have their seasonal parking rules in place.
Parking is free after 4 p.m. every Monday in Rehoboth Beach.
Lewes has several free non-metered parking lots listed on its website, as well as metered lots and spaces on side streets.
When visiting Delaware State Parks like Cape Henlopen, parking is included in the entrance fee.
In Dewey Beach, parking is free in all permit-only and metered spaces Monday through Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. only. All other days and times, you must pay to park on public streets.
Fenwick Island and South Bethany mostly require permits to park, but Fenwick offers free parking on its side streets after 4 p.m.
In Bethany Beach, all spaces are either metered or require a permit through Sept. 15.
Many of these towns and cities offer payment through the ParkMobile app.
For more about parking (or State Park fees), visit each beach town's website:
Want to forget about parking and take a bus to the beach? Parking is free at the park and rides in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.
These routes to the local beach areas and boardwalks are expected to start this week. The 305 Beach Connection from Wilmington to Rehoboth Beach will also start this holiday weekend.
The cost to ride the bus is $2 per trip, $4 for a daily pass, $16 for a seven-day pass or $60 for a 30-day pass. Information will be updated on DART's website.
If traveling around Bethany Beach, the town also offers a trolley with a single route that runs from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and only costs 25 cents per trip.
The weekend forecast promises sun and summerlike temperatures.
If traveling or going for a bike ride Saturday morning, you might see some patchy fog before 10 a.m. The high will be near 81.
Sunday also brings sunny skies with temperatures expected to reach 82.
The evenings will be mostly clear with temperatures dipping around 69.
Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from the inland towns to the beaches. Got a story she should tell? Contact her at email@example.com or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @emily3lytle.