Despite a recent change to federal guidance suggesting face masks aren’t needed for fully vaccinated people outside, the mandate requiring face masks in all of Rehoboth Beach’s public space still stands.
During a special meeting April 27, city commissioners scheduled an emergency meeting for April 29 to discuss possible changes to the city’s mask mandate. That action came in response to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated individuals can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, and they can also participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues. The meeting was also scheduled in anticipation of an April 28 town hall meeting with Gov. John Carney.
The city announced the cancellation of the April 29 meeting late April 28, after the governor’s town hall.
In an email April 29, Mayor Stan Mills said the meeting was scheduled in case the governor announced significant changes to his mask-wearing guidelines. During the Tuesday meeting, Mills said multiple times that the mandate for face masks on the Boardwalk comes from the governor, who has required them on all the state’s boardwalks.
Some changes were announced April 28, but they did not warrant a special meeting, said Mills in his email.
Moving forward, Mills said the next commissioner meeting focused on the pandemic is scheduled for 3 p.m., Tuesday, May 11. He then reiterated that, until at least that meeting, masks are mandated to be worn in all public spaces in the city including on the Boardwalk at all times, when entering and leaving the beach, and on the beach if six-foot social distancing cannot be maintained.
Mills is aware that enforcing the mandate will be a challenge. Officers have already been confronted by individuals not desiring to take safety precautions; however, as long as the mandate is in place, it will be enforced as best as possible, he said, adding that officers are continuing to distribute masks as they are needed.
Summer police staffing levels ‘concerning’
The city has made some gains in hiring summer staff since last reported, such as in the parking and streets departments; however, the police department continues to struggle finding summer cadets.
During the special meeting, Police Chief Keith Banks said a possible cadet had trouble finding housing, so the number of cadets this summer is down to 14. The city budget allows for hiring 28 cadets.
“That number really concerns me,” said Commissioner Edward Chrzanowski, in response.
Not reported on during the special meeting was the Rehoboth Beach Patrol staffing level. In his email April 29, Mills said the beach patrol is fully staffed at 51 individuals, 20 of whom are new hires. Mills said Capt. Jeff Giles is still testing and recruiting on weekends, and he remains confident that additional staff will be hired to round out the beach patrol maximum he recommends of 56.