Delaware adds new restrictions for bars at Dewey, Rehoboth beaches after coronavirus case jump

New restrictions have been put in place for Delaware beach bars ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend after a jump in COVID-19 cases. Governor John Carney announced the move on Tuesday afternoon.

Governor John Carney announced the move on Tuesday afternoon. Health officials in Delaware say the spike is most evident among younger people.

“So clearly, we’ve had an outbreak among bars and restaurants, social activities in Delaware beaches. We also have witnessed across our state, but particularly in the beach communities compliancy with mask wearing," Carney said during a Tuesday press conference. 

According to the modification to Delaware’s State of Emergency, “Taprooms, brewpubs and restaurants may not permit patrons to sit or stand at a bar, but may open the bar to prepare drinks to be brought to diners seated at tables.

Carney also announced that the state will not move into phase 3 of the reopening plan at this time.

Rehoboth Beach commissioners unanimously voted on Tuesday evening in favor of requiring face coverings in all public spaces, including streets, sidewalks,  parks, the boardwalk, the beach, and all commercial establishments for everyone over the age of 12. The order also applies to bicyclists.

Face coverings are not required while actively bathing in ocean water. The requirement for face coverings goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1.

Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of Delaware's Division on Public Health, appeared on Good Day Philadelphia Tuesday morning to discuss an increase in cases at beach towns like Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach.

Dr. Rattay says the jump in cases originally started in groups like high school seniors who headed to the beaches for senior weeks. Since then, she says cases have begun impacting younger adults working in the beach area, as well as some of their older residents.

A single testing event last week turned up over 100 positive cases, which made up for about 10% of those tested.

Another testing event in the Dewey beach area resulted in about a 15% positivity rate in restaurant employees alone.

Delaware resumed indoor dining early in June, an activity health experts say comes with an increased risk for exposure due to the inability to wear a mask of face covering.

"There definitely is an increased risk with indoor dining and with people going into bars. Of course, the more crowded the setting the higher risk. Being indoors is certainly a risk and we are looking very closely at enhancing our mitigation strategies today," Dr. Rattay said Tuesday.

Dr. Rattay added that the new cases would result in some changes.

"There will be some changes. Maybe not so much to indoor dining, but it's unlikely we're going to progress, especially at the beach area right now. We are also looking very closely at bars because it's become very difficult for those who operate bars, those who own bars, to really be able to manage the individuals who are coming into bars," she added.

Dr. Rattay added that non-compliance with social distancing guidelines and face mask requirements in places like bars are contributing to the spread.

Testing is highly encouraged for those living in the beach area with people who are not part of their family and for people who attended parties or ate at a restaurant without a face covering. People working in the restaurant, hotel or retail industry who have frequent contact with other people are also urged to be tested for the virus.




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