Out-of-state travelers turned away from Delaware border

April 4, 2020

About 500 out-of-state vehicles were turned away from Delaware’s northern border April 3 as part of an emergency order requiring people coming into Delaware from out-of-state to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

The checkpoint ran from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Naamans Road and Society Drive in the area of Northtown Plaza, said Master Cpl. Michael Austin of the Delaware State Police. On April 2, he said, police conducted a similar patrol on roadways in the Claymont area, which had been identified as having a large volume of out-of-state travelers.

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.

No citations or arrests were made during the checkpoint, but about 500 vehicles were stopped. During the stops, Austin said, each vehicle’s driver was asked about recent travel and their purpose for entering Delaware.

The driver was then informed of the emergency order, Austin said, and explicitly told that if they are coming into Delaware from out of state, they are required by law to self-quarantine for 14 days or immediately return to their home state.

Delaware State Police Troop 1 Commander Capt. John Laird, who oversaw the operation, said the interactions his troopers had with both Delawareans and out-of-state drivers who passed through the checkpoint were productive and nonconfrontational. Laird said those who were stopped were appreciative to hear about what is expected under the governor’s order. He said police stressed the primary purpose of the stop was to inform and to educate, and not for criminal enforcement, although violating the order does constitute a criminal offense. 

Directed patrols throughout the state will continue, Austin said. The purpose of the patrols and checkpoints is to achieve voluntary compliance with the order through education and awareness, he said, adding these stops are intended to serve the public welfare by helping to prevent and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.


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