All restrictions on capacity for Delaware businesses will be lifted Friday, May 21, according to a decision announced May 4.
“This is the biggest step toward loosening restrictions that we've had in the past year, and it's primarily because of the number and rate of vaccinations,” said Gov. John Carney during his weekly press conference.
Capacity restrictions inside restaurants, retail, houses of worship, and other businesses will be lifted, although 3-feet of social distancing will be required by those establishments. For over a year now, businesses have been held to a strict 6-feet of social distancing, which has curtailed the number of patrons they can serve.
At bars and restaurants that offer indoor or outdoor seating or both, customers must continue to remain seated, officials said, unless a plan for dance floors and other areas is approved by DPH.
Based on recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, officials said, people who have been fully vaccinated and are socially distanced outdoors can participate in activities without face coverings. However, in large crowds such as at concerts and sporting events, the CDC continues to recommend wearing masks. “DPH may require masks for crowded venues and large gatherings including concerts, sporting events, etc.,” officials said in a press release.
Events for more than 250 people, both indoors and outdoors, will still require plan approval from DPH to ensure compliance with basic precautions to prevent spread of COVID-19.
The changes will be formalized in an upcoming modification to Carney’s COVID-19 emergency order.
“We are excited to be at the point in our state’s efforts where we can lift these restrictions, but it’s important to remember that our efforts are not over and we are not out of the woods yet. There will still be some risk of transmission, especially in crowded settings, with the more contagious variants circulating at high levels in our state,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health.
As of May 3, Delaware providers had administered 762,869 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than 53 percent of Delawareans 16 and older have received at least one shot.
As the supply of vaccines surpasses the demand, public health centers and other facilities are allowing walk-in patients, Rattay said.
“There are appointments open and walk-in options all over the state now, so it is not hard to find an appointment,” Rattay said. “For anybody who has been waiting or tried to get an appointment, the time is now.”
Information on vaccine availability can be found at de.gov/getmyvaccine.