As weeks of sheltering at home and warm spring weather bring thoughts of the beach to mind, the COVID-19 state-of-emergency restrictions will be tested, especially at Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore state parks.
With good weather May 2-3, Cape Henlopen State Park was busy on and off the beach, but not everyone was following the restrictions. Officials say more than 36 violations of the rules were issued.
The park's beaches are open to people who are exercising, dog walking or surf fishing from a drive-on permitted vehicle with a limit of two people who live in the same household. According to park officials, activities typically associated with surf fishing such as sunbathing, playing on the sand or in the water, surfing, sitting and reading or playing games are not allowed.
Shauna McVey, Delaware State Parks community relations coordinator, said violations occurred at both Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore state parks over the weekend.
Without stating what violations occurred, McVay said health and safety concerns may require new measures. “We’re constantly evaluating all the options as the situation continues to evolve. Our goal and hope is that everyone complies with the temporary restrictions so that surf fishing continues,” she said.
Rich King, founder of Delaware Surf Fishing, said most people followed the rules during the busy beach weekend at Cape park. However, he said, there were some who blatantly disregarded restrictions.
“The drive-on beaches were opened so we could fish for food and not play,” King said. “We are lucky we have the access we have. I'm sure parks officials are considering shutting it down if it gets worse.”
He said many of the problems at the park involved people fishing on the beach by the pier and kayakers pulling their kayaks over barrier fences. “People were just walking out there and setting up to play on the beach walking by signs that told them not too. One group even set up a volleyball net,” he said.
On surf-fishing beaches, King said some anglers brought their families, in violation of the restrictions.
King said he's using his website, Delaware-Surf-Fishing.com, to once again inform people of the rules in hopes everyone adheres to the new restrictions.
At Cape Henlopen, trails are open, but restrooms, offices, the nature center and the playground are closed. The disc golf course is open but surfing is not permitted at Cape Henlopen or Seashore state parks.
In all state parks, face coverings must be worn when a person comes within 6 feet of another person who is not in their household.
Beaches in Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany remain closed while exercising and dog walking are permitted on Lewes, North Shores and South Bethany beaches. Ocean City, Md., officials announced this week the beach and boardwalk will reopen Saturday, May 9.
Go to www.destateparks.com/Covid19/Surffish to read surf fishing regulations.