Delaware State Police conducted six checkpoints this weekend stopping out-of-state vehicles to inform them of the state’s quarantine order for visitors.
A total of 2,633 cars passed through checkpoints set up near Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, Long Neck and Millsboro, and 477 of those vehicle were from out of state, said Master Cpl. Michael Austin of the Delaware State Police.
Checkpoints operated from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 4 and 5 to inform out-of-state drivers that they are required to self quarantine for 14 days if coming to Delaware from another state, Austin said.
On April 4, checkpoints were set up on Plantation Road south of Route 24, Route 1 southbound on Route 1A, and northbound Route 1 south of Bethany Beach. A total of 1,507 vehicles passed through the three checkpoints with 1,284 Delaware vehicles and 223 from out of state, Austin said.
On April 5, the checkpoints were on Route 113 in the area of Route 20 south of Millsboro, Route 24 in the Long Neck area, and northbound Route 1 south of Bethany Beach. A total of 1,126 passed through the checkpoints, 872 from Delaware and 254 from out of state, Austin said.
As vehicles proceeded through the checkpoints, Austin said, those displaying out-of-state tags were stopped. The driver was asked questions related to their recent travel and purpose for entering Delaware, and then informed of the governor’s order requiring out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days or immediately return to their home state.
Austin said interactions were productive and nonconfrontational. Troopers stressed that the primary purpose of the stop was to inform and to educate as opposed to criminal enforcement, although violating the order does constitute a criminal offense. There were no citations issued or arrests made during the two-day operation, Austin said.
Austin said directed patrols throughout the state are expected to continue. The purpose of the patrols and checkpoints is to achieve voluntary compliance with the order, through education and awareness. These stops are intended to serve the public welfare by helping to prevent and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
A similar checkpoint was held April 3 near Delaware’s northern border where about 500 out-of-state vehicles were turned away at Naamans Road and Society Drive in the area of Northtown Plaza. Another checkpoint was conducted in the Claymont area, which had been identified as having a large volume of out-of-state travelers, Austin said.
While the Governor’s State of Emergency Declaration authorizes any Delaware law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle driving within the state simply because it has an out-of-state tag, the order does not apply to vehicles traveling on I-95, I-295, or I-495.
Exceptions to the self-quarantine order for travelers, include:
• Motorists passing through Delaware while traveling to other states.
• Those traveling from their home state to work for an essential business in Delaware.
• Those caring for a family member in Delaware.
• People coming into the state for healthcare reasons such as going to a pharmacy, veterinarian or physician.
Editor’s note: The out-of-state totals have been corrected.