Coronavirus update: Rental restrictions in Del. ‘severely undercut’ tourism, hoteliers say

Hotel operators are urging Delaware Gov. John Carney to allow them to reopen for business.

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As of Thursday afternoon, Delaware officials reported 8,386 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 192 over yesterday. There were another seven deaths, bringing the total number of Delaware fatalities to 317. The number of people hospitalized stayed steady at 220. Just 39 patients are being treated in intensive care.

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Rental restrictions “severely undercut” tourism, hoteliers say

Hotel operators are urging Delaware Gov. John Carney to allow them to reopen for business. In early April, Carney shut down commercial lodging including hotels, motels, home rentals and rentals through online agencies like VRBO or Airbnb.

Right now hotels are only allowed to serve essential workers or vulnerable citizens with no other place to stay. And while restrictions are being relaxed on retail stores, restaurants and other businesses as part of the Phase 1 reopening plan on June 1, the ban on hotel operations will remain.

That’s a problem for the state’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry, says Delaware Hotel and Lodging Association Chairman Bill Silva.

In a letter to Carney, Silva said not allowing hotels to open will severely undercut the tourism economy. “Several other neighboring states have ‘opened for business’ welcoming vacation/ leisure travelers to enjoy their beaches and attractions.  Losing this business to other states, like Maryland or New Jersey, will cause irreparable financial loss to the hotels who rely on the seasonal vacationers,” Silva wrote.

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More than 17,000 people are employed at Delaware hotels, according to DHLA.

Two more testing events this week

As part of the state’s efforts to test 80,000 people per month, two more drive-through testing events will be held today in Middletown and Sunday in Dover.

Saliva-based COVID-19 testing will be held today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Middletown High School, and at the Dover DMV on Sunday, May 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Those looking to get tested can pre-register at to reserve a spot and reduce wait time. Health officials say those getting tested should not eat, drink or brush their teeth 20 minutes prior to getting tested. They’ve published a “how-to” video online to demonstrate what to expect.

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New guidance for U-pick farms

More than 20 Delaware farms are listed by the Dept. of Agriculture as offering visitors the chance to pick their own fruit and vegetables, everything from apples and tomatoes to strawberries and watermelon and more. As the fruits and vegetables ripen in the fields, the state is offering new guidance for farms to protect those pickers from the coronavirus.

Visitors will have to call to set up an appointment to go picking, with the farms ensuring that there is plenty of distance between groups. Face coverings are required for anyone over 13 years old and recommended for those ages 2-12. Anyone coming to the farm to pick produce will be required to sanitize their hands before and after going into the field. Picking containers from home will not be permitted.

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