For the most part, public complying with face covering order

DOVER — Rebuffed by a Valero clerk for service, a maskless, would-be patron’s ensuing kick shattered a glass door Tuesday, Cheswold police said.

A criminal mischief charge was pending based on the door’s value, Chief Chris Workman said two days later.

Otherwise, the chief said the governor’s emergency order modification to wear face coverings in public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is being observed.

Multiple other police departments and businesses reported similar adherence this week.

While Delaware State Police spokeswoman Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe said there’s no specific charge related to the sole violation, a person who continues to refuse management requests to leave a business “could possibly be charged with third-degree trespassing or disorderly conduct.”

Also, Cpl. Jaffe said, there are exceptions and “The person may be asked what medical condition precludes them from wearing a face covering, however they do not need to produce documentation.”

But while mask wearing isn’t spelled out in code, ultimately the governor’s order has the force of law; failure to comply with it could result in a criminal offense.

At a daily briefing Gov. John Carney said that while he’s disappointed some people aren’t wearing face coverings, it is “delicate balance” in terms of enforcing it. The state doesn’t want to be too heavy-handed, even though the governor said he’s heard from people upset others aren’t wearing masks.

“We really do rely on voluntary compliance, but we have to show that there’s teeth behind it and it’s really for everybody’s benefit,” he said.

DSP has seen no compliance issues, Cpl. Jaffe said.

When Redner’s Markets assistant store director Jim Lust approached a couple folks without masks, they quickly agreed to don them. The store in the Greentree Shopping Center has provided face shields when needed, he said.

“People walk in wearing bandannas, cloths over their faces, they’re doing what they have to do,” Mr. Lust said.

Another visitor cited asthma as the reason for no mask and continued moving in the store, he said.

At Produce Junction in Dover, an employee is posted at the entrance and only 30 customers are allowed inside.

“We’ve only had a couple people trying to give us a hard time (about wearing a mask) but all and all people are adhering to what’s required,” store manager Mark Wayland said. “When the state says you can’t leave home without one you can’t leave home without one.”

In Milford, Walmart “contracted us for assistance if anyone fails to comply with them (being asked) to wear a mask,” police Sgt. Robert Masten said.

An officer is thus on the premises when the store is open.

“Walmart staff speaks with anyone who is not in compliance and would ask us to assist if anyone gave them an issue,” Sgt. Masten said.

So far, so good, according to Sgt. Masten.

“We’ve had to speak with a few people about being in compliance and the people spoken to have been receptive,” he said.

Police in Millsboro, Laurel, Seaford and Delmar reported to issues either.

“It would be our goal to educate the public first before enforcement takes place if an issue arises,” said Millsboro Sgt. David Moyer, describing the strategy as complaint driven.

Chief Workman said that if a disposable mask is available “we try to supply one to a person who is not wearing one, but that is few and far between since disposables are hard to come by.

“I had placed an order for some cloth masks for our officers at the beginning of April but have not received them yet so we are also forced to use disposable ones currently.”

Posted reminders

On Friday, a Target store spokesman said “In areas where local governments are asking residents to wear masks, we have added signage and stationed team members outside stores to remind guests to wear masks while shopping.”

Walmart has posted reminders at store entrances and “We encourage customers to be especially mindful of one another during this unprecedented time and adhere to recommendations that we all use face coverings while in public spaces,” a spokesperson said.

Food Lion said its stores are complying with all state mandates. Signage referencing state requirements for customers to wear face coverings are placed throughout the store, a spokeswoman said.

As of Friday, any state park, wildlife and reserve visitor 13 or older must bring a face mask and wear it “when they cannot maintain social distancing from other visitors,” according to a Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control news release.

“Those who do not bring face masks when visiting these areas may be required to leave by DNREC Natural Resources Police officers or staff.”

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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