Coronavirus update: Delaware hotels can reopen, outdoor gatherings up to 250 permitted

Rehoboth Beach boardwalk (Butch Comegys for WHYY)

Rehoboth Beach boardwalk (Butch Comegys for WHYY)

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As of Monday, Delaware has reported 9,066 cases of the coronavirus, and 335 related deaths, with 201 people, including non-residents, currently hospitalized.

Rolling Reopening

Delaware hotels can reopen, out-of-staters will no longer have to self-quarantine for 14 days,  and outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people will be permitted starting next Monday, June 1, as Gov. John Carney announced more steps Tuesday in lifting his two-month-old stay-at-home order.

Short-term rentals, open borders and larger gatherings including weddings and graduations will now be part of Phase 1 of Carney’s COVID-19 recovery plan, along with outdoor service at restaurants and expanded retail and personal service options, but Carney is still requiring facemasks in public and people to remain six feet apart from those who are not in their households.

Carney permitted Delaware beaches and boardwalks open to sunbathers, swimmers and shoppers over the weekend, and said residents responded well.

“We want visitors to enjoy Delaware, our world-class beaches and restaurants, but it’s important that everyone remember that COVID-19 is still very much active in Delaware,” the governor said in a written statement.

“Delawareans who visited our beaches this past weekend acted responsibly, taking basic precautions to protect their families and their neighbors. Thank you.

“We all need to continue taking steps to protect our most vulnerable. Those steps aren’t complicated. Wash your hands frequently. Maintain distance between yourself and others. Wear a face covering when you’re in a public setting. Don’t let up.”

Carney said the release of guidelines for school graduations is imminent. While the cap on gatherings will be 250 during Phase 1, Carney said organizers of gatherings of more than 250 people can apply for an exemption at least seven days in advance.

To be permitted, 250-plus gatherings must be approved by either the Division of Small Business or Department of Education, whose officials will consult with the Division of Public Health.

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Bus riders must pay, can board at front of bus June 1

Delaware’s transit bus system will resume collecting rider fares next Monday, June 1, in keeping with the first phase of Gov. John Carney’s economic reopening.

DART will also reinstate its regular routes and let passengers board at the front of the bus, officials said.

Since April 2, as the virus was spreading rapidly throughout Delaware, the transit buses have not charged fees and required riders to board at the rear door. Routes were reduced and consolidated in mid-March.

While passengers can still pay in cash,, except for riders of paratransit buses,  DART is promoting the use of what it called “contactless, cashless fare payments’’ using the DART Pass mobile payment app, which customers can use to get discounts on daily, seven-day and 30-day passes.

While the buses are returning to their regular schedule, the number of passengers on each bus is limited based on seating capacity, physical distancing is required on the bus and at stops and riders 13 and older must wear face masks. Those who are feeling sick should not ride the bus.

Buses, public facilities and lobbies, including counters and door handles, are on an enhanced disinfectant schedule.

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