Carney orders shutdown of nonessential businesses

Starting March 24, residents instructed to stay home
March 22, 2020

Delaware has announced a shutdown of all nonessential business and activities in the state starting 8 a.m., Tuesday, March 24, and ordered residents to stay at home whenever possible. The order will remain in effect until May 15 or until the coronavirus public health threat is eliminated.

“This was not an easy decision, but it’s the right decision to protect the safety of Delawareans and Delaware families,” said Gov. John Carney. “If you have any questions about whether you should be staying home or going out, stay home. Go to work, and go straight back home. If you don't need food or other essential items, stay home.”

Delaware employers who have questions about the closure can call 302-577-8477 or email

Carney said leaving home is allowed for essential activities such as getting groceries, picking up a prescription, going to a doctor, or other activities essential to one’s health or the health and well-being of family members and pets.

Delawareans may also engage in outdoor activity, but must adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The order requires essential businesses to implement flexible and nonpunitive sick leave policies for their employees. 

Essential business allowed to stay open include: newspapers, radio and television companies; construction companies; agricultural; manufacturing; grocery stores, specialty food stores, and beer, wine and liquor stores; doctor’s offices and hospitals; and air, rail, water and truck transportation. Restaurants and eateries remain open for delivery and takeout only.

For a full list of essential and nonessential click here.

“We’re acting with urgency to prevent a spike in coronavirus cases that could overwhelm our hospital system,” said Carney. “Delawareans cannot go out in public unnecessarily. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently. Essential businesses that remain open must provide easy access to hand washing stations or sanitizer, enforce social distancing, and provide flexible sick leave policies for their employees. That will reduce our risk and help keep all Delawareans healthy. We’ll get through this, but we all need to pitch in and take this threat seriously.”

Carney said in an earlier interview that he was prepared for stricter measures after talking with governors in neighboring states who have instituted stringent closures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On March 21, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy banned public gatherings of any size and ordered all nonessential businesses to close. Those who violate his order could face prosecution. Supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and other businesses remain open. 

Pennsylvania closed all businesses March 19 that are not considered life sustaining, and violators also face prosecution.

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