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Rehoboth: Lift quarantine for property owners, test service employees

City urging state to ease restrictions for second homes, help screen workers
May 19, 2020

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach City Hall
229 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach  Delaware  19971
United States

Rehoboth Beach officials say it’s time to lift a two-week quarantine on people who own second homes in the city. They are also say it’s critical that service-industry employees entering the city be tested for COVID-19.

The commissioners resumed their discussion of a plan to reopen Rehoboth during a meeting May 15, agreeing to craft two letters urging Gov. John Carney to take action on those two issues.

Commissioner Susan Gay said the governor’s restrictions call for a quarantine for out-of-state property owners, but not for second homeowners who live in other parts of Delaware. There’s no difference between a second homeowner from Wilmington or one of the surrounding states, she said.

Gay said city officials have to trust that property owners have the best interest of the city in mind when they’re in town.

Commissioner Lisa Schlosser agreed. It was the second meeting in a row she called for lifting the mandatory quarantine on second homeowners. About 80 percent of property owners in Rehoboth are second homeowners, she said.

Commissioner Steve Scheffer said a license plate is not important;  what is important is how a person acts when they get into town.

Mayor Paul Kuhns said other than randomly pulling over people with out-of-state license plates, the city does not have the staff to enforce the quarantine. All of the state’s coastal communities are dealing with this issue, he said. 

In the end, Kuhns tasked Gay to work with Krys Johnson, the city’s communication director, to write the letter to Carney.

As to testing, Commissioner Richard Byrne said for safety, city officials must be proactive to ensure testing materials are available so that service-industry workers can be regularly tested for COVID-19. Many of the employees who work in the restaurants and hotels in Rehoboth come from areas of the county that are hotspots right now, he said.

They’re doing very important work, but the virus may be running rampant where they’re coming from, said Byrne.

Schlosser also supported this action. Rehoboth may currently have one of the lowest rates of infection statewide, Schlosser said, but that will change.

Kuhns said almost all the Sussex County testing is occurring in the Route 113 corridor, but he agreed the city could urge the governor to mandate testing for restaurant and hotel workers.

Commissioners took the first step in reopening the city during a meeting May 12 by agreeing to partially open the beach and Boardwalk to exercise and walking May 15. Both had been closed since March 21. Commissioners also agreed to postpone starting parking meters and permit enforcement until at least Friday, May 29. Both were scheduled to go into effect Friday, May 22.

The commissioners had originally agreed that leashed dog walking would be allowed on the beach through Friday, May 29. However, during the May 15 meeting, in response to Gov. John Carney’s announcement the state’s beaches and boardwalks were opening at 5 p.m., Friday, May 22, commissioners agreed leashed dog walking should go through the end of the day Thursday, May 21.

As of May 18, the governor has indicated June 1 as the date when some restrictions related to restaurants and retail shops will begin to be lifted. During the meeting May 15, commissioners continued to discuss how to best accommodate those businesses when restrictions are lifted.

Commissioner Pat Coluzzi said commissioners should consider removing parking on Baltimore and Wilmington Avenues, which would allow restaurants to put tables on the sidewalks and pedestrians in the parking spot areas.

Kuhns said the idea was nice, but the city would have to come up with a way to separate pedestrians from delivery trucks.

Kuhns suggested turning to Rehoboth Beach Main Street to talk with the businesses and present a plan to the commissioners, noting it would be a pretty broad project.

Commissioners are scheduled to resume the reopening discussion at 3 p.m., Tuesday, May 19. It will be a virtual meeting and can be viewed on the city’s municipal portal at cityofrehoboth.civicweb.net

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