Lewes requires masks in downtown district

July 2, 2020

Lewes Mayor and City Council have followed Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach in strengthening requirements for face coverings in public. 

Effective 5 p.m., Friday, July 3, face coverings are required from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the downtown business district. The area includes both sides of Savannah Road to Market Street and from the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to Third Street. The requirement is in place until the day after Labor Day or until city officials lift restrictions. The requirement includes bicyclists. 

“It’s more important to protect people than to accommodate someone who doesn’t want to wear a mask,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Osler, who has seen very few people wearing masks in public. “I don’t see this as a close call.” 

Lewes officials did not deem it necessary to require face coverings on the beach or in other areas of the city. 

Deputy Mayor Fred Beaufait voted against the measure saying he did not believe it was enforceable. 

“I’m not opposed to wearing masks or asking people to wear masks,” he said. 

He said he was looking at it from a standpoint of practicality.

“I don’t think any police officer should be put in that position,” he said. “I can’t see us arresting anyone. You could give them a ticket, but how do you make them pay it? How do you track them down? I don’t think it can be done in a way that is appropriate. We could do this in a more friendly way.” 

Mayor Ted Becker said he reluctantly voted in favor of it, but agreed it’s necessary.

“I have great concerns about its enforceability and the confusion it may cause,” Becker said. “The merchants are doing a fantastic job of enforcing it. I understand the desire [for more restrictions] and support the idea of doing everything we can to promote safety.”

In addition to the police, Becker said the city’s downtown ambassadors can help enforce the new requirements. 

City Manager Ann Marie Townshend said the ambassadors recently reported only about half of people wear masks when walking on the downtown sidewalks. 

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