Beaches in Lewes are joining the rest of Delaware's coastline as they plan to open for visitors Friday, May 22.
“There's a lot of planning going on,” said Mayor Ted Becker during a May 18 council meeting. “It's going to be pretty fluid now until the weekend.”
Social distancing requiring 6-feet of separation between people from different households will be in effect. Face coverings will be required in public restrooms, but only recommended on the beach, said Town Manager Ann Marie Townshend.
Townshend said a Lewes police officer will be assigned to cover the beaches and work overtime on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Council did not take a vote to engage volunteer beach amabassadors, a recommendation by Gov. John Carney. By not approving it, city officials essentially eliminated using volunteers to inform beachgoers of social distancing rules.
Most council members saw little benefit an ambassador, and some feared potential conflict. “I'm concerned about a physical risk,” said Councilman Dennis Reardon.
Lewes and Henlopen Acres are the only two beach towns that remained open to walking and exercise even after Carney restricted beach access March 21. Lewes police officers have been patrolling the beach on a UTV and with a drone, and Police Chief Tom Spell has said those activities will continue.
Parking lots will have more spaces for parking than has been allowed since May 14 but will not be completely open. At the Lewes Beach 1 parking lot, spaces in between the bathrooms and Virginia Avenue will be blocked off, Townshend said. For Lewes Beach 2, a parking area behind the private property will be closed, she said.
“I hope the beaches will be opened in a safe manner,” Becker said.
June 1 limited reopening
The magic numbers are 6 and 30 as Delaware businesses approach the first phase of reopening June 1.
In Gov. John Carney's 24-page guideline for businesses allowed to reopen with limitations, social distancing in all instances requires a 6-foot distance between people not from the same household, and businesses allowed to operate are restricted to 30 percent of their fire code occupancy.
Restaurants will be open to diners by reservation only, in addition to takeout and delivery that has been allowed since the beginning of the economic shutdown. Gyms will be allowed to reopen with 30 percent occupancy, 6-foot social distancing, face coverings, and for classes of no more than 10.
Bars, however, remain closed, as do nail salons, even though hair salons opened for limited business May 8. Youth athletic competitions remain on hold; groups of no more than 10 are allowed to meet for no-contact activities with everyone social distancing and wearing face coverings. Although Carney announced May 14 that community pools could open May 22, he said swim teams cannot practice in the water. The next day, YMCA of Delaware canceled its summer swim team programs across the state, based on guidance from Carney and the Division of Public Health.
During a press conference May 15, Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director, said there are physical activities for youth under the reopening but social distancing and good hygiene are important.
“For those of us who have been involved in swim teams, it can be difficult to social distance when you have many, many individuals who are close together,” she said. “But there are measured approaches laid out in the reopening document that are going to allow [teams], whether it’s swimmers or other athletes, to begin to resume their activities.”