Delaware’s state parks and beaches will reopen May 22, but visitors to the state parks will be limited, officials say.
Since March, beach activities had been limited to exercising, dog-walking and restricted surf fishing as part of precautions against the spread of COVID-19. Adequate social distancing on the beaches remains a concern and will be closely monitored as the restrictions are modified.
To carry out Gov. John Carney’s phased reopening of Delaware beaches, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced the following for state parks:
- Current restrictions on beach activity will be lifted starting at 5 p.m. Friday, May 22. Sunbathing, swimming, picnicking, surfing, kayaking, walk-on surf fishing and other activities will be allowed to resume for Delawareans and for those from out-of-state who have quarantined 14 days.
- At least 6-foot distance will be required on beaches among those from different households, and groups of visitors from the same household may be no larger than 10. Masks or face coverings are encouraged to be worn on beaches.
- Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks will have capacity limits – 50 percent to 70 percent of parking spaces – that will be enforced at entrances and with closure of parking spaces.
- Visitors must bring face coverings, such as masks or bandanas, with them when entering state parks. Within state parks, face coverings must be worn in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in bathhouses, park offices, concession buildings, boat docks, and trails and paths where others are present.
- Beach-area bathrooms and bathhouses will open May 22. Most bathrooms in other state parks around the state will also open, but some will remain closed due to distancing/cleaning considerations.
- Cleaning services will be increased to multiple times per day at all open bathrooms and bathhouses.
- For surf fishing, the limit of two people per car has been lifted, and only one person per car must be actively fishing. But 20-foot distancing between vehicles will be required, and drive-on beaches may be closed by officers to additional vehicles when the carrying capacity to implement social distancing is not possible.
- Visitors are encouraged to purchase annual passes to avoid anticipated delays for daily entrance payments. Annual passes are available online at destateparks.com and resumed availability at park offices starting May 21.
- Daily park entrance fees will only be collected via the automated credit card machines or self-registration envelopes provided at park entrances for those without annual passes or permits.
- Camping and pavilion reservations at all state parks have been canceled through May 31. Full refunds will be issued, and no further action is required by the customer. Should the governor’s state of emergency closure of camping be extended beyond June 1, further cancellations will occur at that time.
State park daily entrance fees for vehicles registered in Delaware are $4 at inland parks and $5 at ocean parks. Fees for out-of-state vehicles are $8 at inland parks and $10 at ocean parks. Annual park entrance passes are $35 for Delawareans and $70 for out-of-state, with discounted rates for military and for those on state or federal assistance, including those on unemployment. For information on pass and permit fees, go to destateparks.com/Know/passestagsfees.