Gov. John Carney issued his 23rd modification to the State of Emergency declaration June 30, closing bars in eastern Sussex County to limit spread of COVID-19 in Delaware’s beach communities. The modification also includes consumer protections for Delawareans who may face foreclosure or eviction filings.
“Delawareans and Delaware businesses have made significant sacrifices to flatten the curve. We are beating this disease. But COVID-19 has not gone away,” he said. “We need to protect our progress and stay vigilant. Know your status by getting tested – especially if you have spent time in our beach communities. Wear a face mask in public settings, as you’re required to do under the State of Emergency. Remain socially distant. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. We know those are the best, and easiest, ways to prevent transmission of this virus. Let’s not go backward.”
Phase 2 allowing for 60 percent capacity of businesses is still in effect, but bars and taprooms will be shut down 8 a.m., Friday, July 3, for the eastern Sussex County towns of Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Long Neck, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick Island, West Fenwick Island, Ocean View, and Millville. It also applies to establishments outside incorporated areas in the following ZIP codes: 19966 east of Route 24 and Route 5; 19945 east of Route 17; 19975 east of the intersection of routes 20 and 54, and the entirety of 19944, 19967, 19970, 19930, 19971, and 19958.
Carney provided no end date for the restrictions. During this time, he said, 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. Taprooms, brewpubs and restaurants that choose to use designated bar space for seating patrons must arrange tables consistent with the Phase 2 Reopen Plan to allow for minimum social distancing. Tables and booths must be arranged in a way that ensures seated patrons at one table are at least six feet apart from seated customers at another table. For booths, the order states, this typically means seating patrons at every other booth. For freestanding tables with pull-out chairs, there should be eight feet of distance to ensure that a seated patron is six feet from seated guests at other tables. Inside and outside seating must both comply with these standards, according to the order.
Carney’s latest modification also includes several consumer protections for Delawareans and Delaware families. Effective 8 a.m., Wednesday, July 1, filings for foreclosures and evictions can resume, but will continue to be stayed to permit the Justice of the Peace Courts to determine whether the parties would benefit from a court-supervised mediation or alternative dispute resolution. That process may include identifying access to housing support services through the Delaware State Housing Authority. Local sheriffs and constables are directed to refrain from removing individuals from residential properties unless a Delaware court determines that enforcement is necessary in the interest of justice. In addition, utility companies must offer four-month payment plans to those affected by COVID who were unable to pay utility bills during the height of the pandemic, and insurance companies must offer 90-day repayment plans for those affected by COVID who failed to make premium payments during the height of the pandemic.