Entry to Cape Henlopen State Park temporarily closed Saturday

On Saturday, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control conducted an entrance checkpoint at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. (Submitted photo/DNREC)

LEWES – Entrance into Cape Henlopen State Park was halted for about 90 minutes Saturday afternoon to limit the number of vehicles inside at any one time, DNREC said.

The aim was to boost social distancing and meet other requirements under Gov. John Carney’s ongoing State of Emergency order, according to spokeswoman Nikki Lavoie.

The park reached capacity at 3 p.m. with 170 vehicles (inside) at the same time,” Ms. Lavoie said.

“As a result, traffic was turned around until surveys of the parking lots by staff and officers determined there was capacity to reopen.”

Vehicles were allowed to begin entering again at around 4:30 p.m., Ms. Lavoie said.

Of the 634 vehicles arriving at a park checkpoint, DNREC said, 567 vehicles entered the park. Some opted not to wait until entry resumed and some out-of-state visitors were turned away due to the COVID-19-related declaration.

“Out-of-state vehicles were monitored, stopped and asked if they were in compliance with the governor’s quarantine order of 14 days,” Ms. Lavoie said. “There were 22 cars denied access for this reason.”

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and EnvironmentaI Control said visitors must maintain social distance from each other when visting parks and wildlife areas.

DNREC is “trying to keep our parks and wildlife areas open to Delawareans during the pandemic, but visitors must maintain social distance from each other and follow other requirements,” Ms. Lavoie said.

“Delawareans can help by only visiting our parks when they need a break or to get fresh air. Second, avoid peak times, often mid-afternoon. Third, stay for shorter times so others have an opportunity to use our public spaces and trails.”

Limitations on beach activity and surf fishing have been in effect and six violations were cited last week, Ms. Lavoie said. Three came Sunday and none were at Cape Henlopen on Saturday, she said.

“Surf fishing is limited to those with a current surf fishing permit with the following restrictions: Only fishing from vehicles will be allowed, only two persons from the same household may accompany the vehicle and both persons must be actively fishing at all times, with distance between vehicles on the beach of 20 yards,” she said.

On foot and in marked vehicles, Natural Resources Police will continue to conduct routine patrols of beaches and wildlife areas throughout the day.

“During a patrol, an officer may stop visitors to ask questions related to their recent travel, number of people in their party and how they intend to use our public outdoor spaces,” Ms. Lavoie said.

“Any failure to comply with the provisions contained in a Declaration of a State of Emergency constitutes a criminal offense. When officers observe groups are not social distancing, they are reminded of the requirements and most people comply.”

Failure to obey an emergency order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $50 to $500 and up to six months in prison per infraction.

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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