As Dewey restaurants close or limit operations in the wake of increasing positive COVID-19 cases, some residents have called for the cancellation of Highway One’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show.
Dewey Budget and Finance Committee member Phil Winkler is one of several residents who asked the town and Highway One President Alex Pires to cancel fireworks.
“A few neighbors and I have been talking about the proposed fireworks display and we all think it is a bad idea and dangerous to the population of Dewey and all the visitors that will show up,” Winkler said. “The virus is already here within our population. It is simply too dangerous to permit this to occur.”
Highway One’s permit to hold the fireworks display from a barge on Rehoboth Bay was granted by the Delaware fire marshal.
Mayor Dale Cooke said the fireworks are not a town event, occur outside town limits and cannot be canceled by the town. Cooke said Pires has done the town a big favor over the years by hosting the fireworks, but added that he is worried about the crowds that will flock to Dewey, since other beach towns have canceled fireworks.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to control social distancing and masks. It’s hard enough enforcing it on a normal day,” Cooke said.
Town Manager Scott Koenig issued a statement advising anyone attending the fireworks event to wear a mask or face covering.
“We anticipate that the best viewing spots at various beach locations and town streets will become quite crowded and normal six-foot social distancing may not be possible,” Koenig said. “We anticipate all parking within town limits to be quite full throughout the day and evening. Please consider walking or using the Jolly Trolley as the town will be quite congested for individual vehicular access.”
Pires and Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal John Galaska could not be reached for comment. Pires posted on his Facebook page June 28 that the show will continue.
Restaurants close, reduce operations
In light of the growing number of positive COVID-19 cases, several Dewey restaurants have closed or reduced operations. The Starboard, Starboard Raw and Nalu announced they would be closed until Tuesday, June 30. Gary’s Dewey Beach Grill/38-75 Brewing and Grotto Pizza have closed dine-in services.
Hammerheads closed both locations June 25 and announced a few staff members tested positive for COVID-19; a reopening date has not yet been set. After first closing only dine-in services, Woody’s Dewey Beach closed all operations June 27 “due to increased anxieties within our beach community regarding COVID” and has not yet announced a reopening date. The restaurant gave away 350 crab cakes June 29.
Public testing event was held at The Starboard June 26 and 29, said owner Steve “Monty” Montgomery, who added that all of his employees were tested. Montgomery said the restaurant will reopen Tuesday, June 30 for takeout, and will gradually reopen to dining, with an earlier closing time. He said Public Health’s recent surprise inspection of the restaurant found employees are following required protocols for Phase 2.
“Testing everyone was an easy decision and the right thing to do for everyone’s safety,” Montgomery said by phone June 28. “We’ve gone out of our way to help get as many tests done as possible, knowing that results in the younger generation who are mostly asymptomatic are important to identify.”