Reopening Phase Two begins Monday: Increased capacities, larger gatherings allowed

The Boardwalk Plaza Hotel and other busineeses along the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk are gearing up for the state’s second phase of reopening today. Hotels and commercial lodging facilities will open to 60% capacity and are required to have regular cleaning of rooms and common areas. Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder

DOVER — Certain businesses can begin to increase capacity and larger public gatherings will be allowed starting at 8 a.m. today as Delaware enters the second phase of its reopening plan from the shutdown imposed to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Locations that operated at 30% of fire occupancy requirements for Phase One, can move to 60% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff). The indoor gathering limit is raised to 50 people and fully unenclosed outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people are permitted if public health precautions are in place.

However, exercise facilities and personal care services such as hair care, tanning, tattoo, massage therapy services, nail care, brow care, spas, waxing services and similar services are required to remain at 30% of fire occupancy requirements.

Cloth face coverings must still be worn in accordance with the State of Emergency Order and social distancing must still be observed at all gatherings.

Gov. John Carney emphasized during his press conference on Friday how important it is to still wear masks as Delaware reopens. He pointed to 12 states that have seen sharp increases in COVID-19 cases after reopening Memorial Day weekend.

Gov. Carney said a rebound in COVID-19 cases would be the worst possible situation for the state and urged residents to not get complacent and keep observing the guidelines to help prevent the spread, calling this time “the new normal” until there’s a vaccine or effective treatment.

“What we do know, as we move forward, it (a face covering) will be helpful in maintaining the health of the community,” Gov. Carney said.

“The virus has not gone away,” he added. “The virus has opportunities to spread with people not using the precautions in terms of social distancing and mask-wearing.”

Businesses and locations allowed to increase capacity to 60% are: casinos, food and drink establishments, houses of worships, commercial lodging establishments, arts and culture centers, malls, retail stores and community pools.

An employee at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach helps a guest.

Locally, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino is extending its casino hours and reopening its hotel for Phase Two.

Dover Downs may operate with a maximum occupancy up to 60% of that allowed by current fire code on the casino floor. The following hours of operation will go into effect — Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-4 a.m., Friday 10 a.m.-Monday 4 a.m., making the weekends open for 24-hour operation.

Table games will open during Phase Two in accordance to State and Lottery guidelines. An additional 166 slot machines will be available for play beginning today.

The hotel will be operating at 60% occupancy of that allowed by current fire code on Thursday and is currently accepting reservations as well as honoring those booked prior to the closure.

Hotel guests may use the entrance located in the hotel valet and must complete a required temperature check and medical screening prior to checking in. The valet, business center, fitness room and pool will be remain unavailable.

Rules have changed for restaurants as well.

Guests can now sit with those from different households. Bar seating can open again, provided the establishment can ensure social distancing between seats.

Tables are required to be 8-feet apart so guests are 6-feet apart. Restaurants still have to operate on a reservation-only basis unless there is no gathering process for walk-ins. Self-service is still not allowed.

Gov. Carney said he is optimistic with how the reopening process has worked so far for businesses and carries that optimism into Phase Two based on the data of Delaware’s declining cases.

“I’m way more optimistic,” Gov. Carney said. “I’ve seen the creative things that businesses have done. I’ve seen restaurants using outdoor spaces and maximizing that. Do I hear frustration? Absolutely. But I know that they understand that consumer confidence is a big part of this. Consumer confidence will be driven by the perception of safety.

“My heart aches for those businesses who have been affected so negatively and we have tried to gradually allow them to reopen and get business and revenue going again,” Gov. Carney added. “I think we have turned the corner in that regard.”

Hotels and commercial lodging facilities will open to 60% capacity as well and are required to have regular cleaning of rooms and common areas. Any food and drink facilities, exercise facilities and pools in the hotel must follow their specific guidelines.

For exercise facilities operating at 30% capacity, face coverings are required unless the guest is doing strenuous exercise where a mask may interfere with their breathing and is 6-feet from others. Fitness classes are still capped at 10 people.

Personal care services, which opened last Monday at 30% capacity, are still appointment-only. Face coverings are also required, as is social distancing when feasible.

Realtors can resume open houses while following the indoor gathering limits and social distancing. All property must be disinfected after each showing.

Softscape or hardscape children playground facilities, trampoline parks, children’s museums and water parks are still required to remain closed in Phase Two.

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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