Churches may conduct outside services under new guidelines from state

WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney on Saturday released an update on Delaware’s response to COVID-19, which allows churches to conduct outside gatherings and services.

Gov. Carney said that Delaware churches and houses of worship may conduct outdoor services without limitations on gathering sizes, as long as they follow social distancing and other basic health precautions, including handwashing and face coverings.

Communities of worship must post signs detailing basic health precautions, including information about social distancing, frequent hand washing, and the use of face coverings. Churches and houses of worship also should discourage parishioners 65 and older from attending services, because of their greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and falling seriously ill.

All Delaware houses of worship have been deemed essential under Delaware’s stay-at-home order since the governor signed the order on March 22.

“Delawareans have (the) fundamental right to practice their faith, but we need everyone to do so safely. You don’t have a right to get others sick,” Gov. Carney said. “This is a serious disease. Keep your distance. Wear a face covering. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.

“All of Delaware’s restrictions are based on public health guidance. More than 300 Delawareans, and nearly 100,000 Americans, have died from this terrible disease. These precautions are not intended to be an annoyance. They’re intended to limit transmission of COVID-19 and save as many lives as we can.”

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Carney signed the 19th modification to his State of Emergency declaration, formalizing steps taken earlier in the week to allow restaurants to expand outdoor seating capacity.

All Delaware food and drink establishments may apply to their local municipal or county jurisdiction with plans to expand outdoor seating. The Delaware Office of Alcohol Beverage Control also will review plans submitted by applicants with liquor licenses. Delaware restaurants and bars are scheduled to open their indoor spaces at 30 percent of stated fire capacity during Phase 1 of Delaware’s economic reopening, beginning June 1.

“We want everyone to enjoy Delaware’s great restaurants, bars and craft breweries, but we’re asking that you do so safely, in a way that protects our neighbors and members of all of our families,” said Gov. Carney. “We know Delaware’s hospitality industry has been hit especially hard by this crisis. Our hope is this change will allow restaurants, bars, and craft breweries to safely expand their businesses outdoors.”

To help Delaware business prepare for reopening, the State of Delaware launched a new Business to Business Toolkit to help connect businesses with vendors selling masks, gloves, and other protective supplies. The toolkit includes a listing of self-reported information from suppliers that responded to the Gov. Carney’s Community Call-to-Action.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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