Millsboro PD issues written warnings to out-of-staters

MILLSBORO — Calling it an “informational enforcement” campaign, Millsboro Police issued 76 written warnings to out-of-state visitors shopping locally last week.

Officers made contacts at Lowe’s and BJ.’s Wholesale Club, from Friday through Sunday and provided copies of Gov. John Carney’s state of emergency order and 14-day quarantine requirements upon entering Delaware.

“We were finding a lot of people were driving through and stopping here, many of them heading to beach homes in Maryland,” Chief Brian Calloway said. “Some were coming in from Maryland, shopping here and then returning to Maryland.

“They were in shopping areas taking advantage of sales and no sales tax here in Delaware. Most were cooperative and knew of restrictions, but they were just trying to get supplies on the way through.”

No misdemeanors or fines were charged, though authorities compiled personal information for the record, Chief Calloway said. The chief said rumors of steeper penalties circulating on social media were untrue.

“There’s a lot of misinformation put out there when it comes to social media,” he said.

Chief Calloway said “Most of those contacted were from Maryland, a couple from New York and New Jersey, even one from Florida.”

The goal was to “Get the word out by saying ‘OK here’s what the guidelines are,” he said.

“This is an educational approach to get people to understand why we’re doing this. Many people in the parking lots were happy we’re doing this and thankful of the safety benefit it would bring to the community.”

According to the Delaware Department of Justice, Milford-based The Lab at Seascape was issued a cease-and-desist order for allegedly charging for COVID-19 tests in violation of the eighth modification of the Declaration of a State Emergency.

Prior to that, three gun stores and two other businesses were issued cease-and-desists for operating while classified as a non-essential business, the DOJ said. Those orders, to the gun shops and a tobacco shop located in New Castle County, and Puffster in Dover, were issued on March 25, according to the DOJ.

In a separate incident, DOJ spokesman Mat Marshall said Sam Chick “was arrested for personal noncompliance (of an emergency order), not direct connection to his business.”

“While this was happening, however, his business was receiving multiple police contacts from Dover PD and DATE and he ultimately was issued a separate C&D the day after his arrest.”

When contacted on Monday evening, Mr. Chick said he was arrested while expressing his unhappiness with how city police handled a situation when he felt threatened by an individual downtown. He was checking on a nearby business for safety reasons at the time when he spoke to police, Mr. Chick said.

In a news release on Monday, Attorney General Kathy Jennings urged Delawareans to follow the state of emergency guidelines, noting that there are potential criminal punishment ramifications and ongoing enforcement statewide.

“This is a tremendously difficult time for everyone, and the only path forward is for all of us to take this seriously as a community,” she said. “These temporary restrictions are unprecedented, but they are necessary. Everyone’s job right now is to save lives. There is no alternative. And when people don’t take these orders seriously, we must step in.

“The overwhelming majority of Delawareans have heeded the governor’s calls to be diligent and to keep their communities safe. By obeying the emergency orders, you are saving the lives of your family, your friends and your neighbors.

“The message to those who ignore the orders is simple: You are endangering people’s lives, including law enforcement officers, by forcing unnecessary interaction.”

Also, the DOJ said it is communicating with businesses after it received more than two dozen formal complaints regarding price gouging.

Delaware State Police this weekend operated checkpoints to educate out-of-state drivers in the areas of Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, Long Neck and Millsboro, as well in the Wilmington area.

Failure to obey an emergency order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $50 to $500 and up to 6 months in prison per infraction. Price gouging violations can bring up to $10,000 in civil fines per offense.

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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