Coronavirus update: Delaware issues Phase 1 reopening guidelines

Gov. John Carney unveiled a 25-page plan to launch Phase 1 of reopening the state including guidance for restaurants, retail stores and other locations.

Delaware National Guard Private Kyeremen sets up a station for packaged food pick-up on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at Frederick Lodge Manufactured Home Community in Townsend, Del. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

Delaware National Guard Private Kyeremen sets up a station for packaged food pick-up on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at Frederick Lodge Manufactured Home Community in Townsend, Del. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

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As of Friday afternoon, 7,373 Delawareans have contracted COVID-19, an increase of 150 since Thursday. Another 11 people have died from the coronavirus-related causes, bringing the state’s total fatalities to 271. There are 261 people hospitalized with the virus, that’s down four since yesterday.

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Carney issues guidelines for Phase 1 reopening

Shopping malls, restaurants, casinos and other businesses will be allowed to reopen on June 1, as long as they follow specific guidelines the state issued Friday afternoon.

Both workers and shoppers must still wear face masks in public, follow social distancing requirements, and basic hygiene practices, including frequent hand washing.

Despite the plans to loosen restrictions, Gov. John Carney urged residents not to get lax in following those guidelines. “It would be a shame, all the pain we’ve experienced over the last 10 weeks, to lose ground by getting a little sloppy, a little careless now,” Carney said. “Now is the time to lean in as we get into Phase 1 we adjust to a new normal.”

For restaurants, dine-in customers must be seated at least six feet apart, or every other booth, and only members of the same household unit may be seated at a table. Diners must have a reservation to be seated. Bar service and seating at a bar may not reopen. The bar of a restaurant may open to prepare drinks to be brought to diners at their tables.

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For retail stores, including those in shopping malls, stores may only allow 30% of their maximum occupancy to shop at a time. Stores must mark out six feet distance of separation in checkout lines.

Barbershops and hair salons can reopen as long as they stagger seating with customers in every other chair. Clients waiting for their turn must wait outside or in their car. Customers must schedule appointments, walk-in clients are not permitted.

Gyms and exercise facilities can open at 30% of their maximum capacity. Equipment and customers must be kept six feet apart.

Arts and culture facilities including museums, libraries, art galleries and performing arts theatres may resume activity as long as patrons are kept apart. For fixed seating venues including theatres like Wilmington’s Grand Opera House, only 30% of seating may be occupied and there must be a 6 feet radius around individual household units. Patrons must exit their seats in an orderly, row by row fashion as directed by venue staff.

Casinos will be allowed to reopen seven days after submitting their facility-specific plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In addition to limiting entrance to 30% of capacity,  individual gaming machines must be kept at least eight feet apart and must be disinfected every 15 minutes to two hours.

Horse racing tracks can restart racing events without any fans in attendance. Automobile racing is not allowed under Phase 1.

Public and private outdoor recreation facilities are permitted to reopen including zoos, miniature golf courses, batting cages and other similar activities.

The following industries are not permitted to open in Phase 1:

  • School-based instruction
  • Summer camps
  • Close contact personal services. This includes tattoo parlors, massage parlors, nail salons, spas, facials, waxing services and similar
  • Convention centers and meeting facilities
  • Sporting facilities and venues (professional and amateur), including but not limited to arcades, bowling alleys, indoor skating rinks (ice and non-ice), martial arts studios, dance studios, indoor tennis and similar indoor athletic facilities, unless they can create a facility-specific plan to observe the industry guidance provided herein for exercise facilities.
  • Indoor children’s play areas, including softscape or hardscape playground facilities,

trampoline parks, and children’s museums

  • Water parks

After taking criticism recently for closing houses of worship, Carney said the state never specifically shuttered churches. He said the limit on gatherings to less than 10 people made it impossible for most churches to gather. He plans to offer guidance on how churches can reopen on Monday.

Blood Bank renews urgent call for donors

In order to supply blood to 19 hospitals in Delaware, Maryland and other states, the Blood Bank of Delmarva aims to have a seven-day supply of donated blood in its reserves.

But the coronavirus has dropped those reserves to dangerously low levels, said BBD President & CEO Christopher Hillyer. Right now, O positive red blood cells are at a 2.8-day inventory level.

“The blood supply is a critical part of our healthcare system. It is imperative for healthy individuals to come in and donate blood so that it’s available to those in need,” he said.

As states start to reopen and elective surgeries that had been delayed by the virus restrictions are rescheduled, the need for blood becomes even greater. “At this unprecedented time, this is one thing you can do to help someone who desperately needs it,” Hillyer said. “We have extended hours at our donor centers and we’re encouraging donors to schedule an appointment to visit one of these controlled, safe environments.”

BBD is beginning to reschedule some mobile blood drives that had been cancelled due to the virus, but not enough to replace the 50 drives per month needed to meet current demands.

Six charged for large party in Newark

Newark police have charged six people for violating the city’s prohibition on gatherings of 10 people or more.

On Wednesday, officers were called to a home on Choate St. near Main St. for reports of a loud party and found a group of about 15 people in the yard. Some of them ran as police arrived.

Four of the six people charged were University of Delaware students who have also been referred to the University’s Office of Student Conduct.

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