Following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach, Gov. John Carney has shut down bar activity at the beach effective Friday, July 3.
Bar seating was permitted when the state entered Phase 2 of reopening June 14. Establishments were expected to ensure adequate physical distancing at bars.
Carney cited complacency, particularly in beach communities, and lack of compliance with wearing face coverings and proper social distancing.
“We have a little bit of a fire that’s been started in the beach communities and we need to put it out,” Carney said.
Carney did not change capacity limits for beach restaurants; they may continue to operate at 60 percent of the fire code capacity. Phase 3 has been delayed indefinitely, Carney said.
More than 100 people tested positive following a COVID-19 test event held recently in Rehoboth Beach, and another dozen following a Dewey Beach test site, prompting the Delaware Division of Public Health to recommend people in the Delaware beach area, particularly in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, get tested for COVID-19.
Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, said the recent spike isn’t limited to restaurant employees and those visiting. It is also affecting local residents, she said.
Over the last few days, many Dewey and Rehoboth restaurants have scaled back hours or shut down in-person service due to rising concerns about the virus spreading through the community.
On Monday, Rehoboth Beach Police Department announced that three lifeguards tested positive for COVID.
Testing focused on the restaurant industry is planned for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, at Rehoboth Elementary School. A testing event for everyone is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, July 2, at Epworth United Methodist Church north of Rehoboth. More information about testing can be found at www.de.gov/gettested.
This is a breaking news story. More information will be added as it is released.