Delaware announces new COVID restrictions, 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants

DOVER — As Delaware broke its record for COVID-19 hospitalizations for the third day in a row on Thursday, state officials announced new restrictions, including a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants.

The order by Gov. John Carney, also limits most establishments to 30% capacity and limits larger retail establishments to 20% to reduce crowds. All new restrictions will take effect at 8 a.m. on Monday.

Monday is also when the previously announced stay-at-home advisory begins. Delawareans are strongly advised to stay at home and not to gather with anyone outside their household from Dec. 14 to Jan. 11 to reduce the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Gov. Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health also announced a zero-tolerance enforcement policy for businesses during the current stay-at-home advisory. A first violation of COVID-19 restrictions will result in an immediate civil fine. A second violation will result in closure until the establishment submits a reopening plan approved by the DPH.

Restaurants will remain at 30% capacity, the order says, but must have signage prominently displayed on the table stating that parties must be from the same household. Restaurants also must share messaging on masking compliance. Mall food courts are capped at 20% of stated fire capacity, or 100 people, whichever is smaller.

The specifics of Thursday’s order are:

• Businesses above 100,000 square feet are limited to 20% of stated fire capacity.

• All other businesses, including most retail stores and all restaurants, are limited to 30% of stated fire capacity.

• Retail below 5,000 square feet, all houses of worship, and funeral services are limited to 40% of stated fire capacity.

• A 10 p.m. curfew will be imposed at Delaware restaurants and bars.

• Exercise classes at gyms are limited to 10 people and exercise machines must be spaced 10-feet apart

• Indoor gatherings at businesses or indoor spaces open to the public must be limited to the lesser of 30% of the venue’s stated fire capacity, or 10 people.

The order clarifies employees are excluded from business capacity restriction calculations.

The previously announced universal mask mandate is still in effect as Delawareans and visitors must wear masks anytime they are indoors with anyone outside of their household.

“These additional restrictions are intended to protect Delaware’s hospital capacity and protect lives this winter,” Gov. Carney said in a statement.

“Health care workers are on the job around the clock, caring for the sick. We all need to follow their lead and do our part to protect others. Don’t gather with anyone outside of your household. Any interaction is riskier when community spread is at current levels. Wear a mask whenever you’re around someone outside your household – even if they’re family or friends. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. COVID-19 can cause serious illness and worse, especially for our most vulnerable friends, family members, and neighbors. Please take this seriously.”

The news came down as Delaware had a record 349 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the DPH’s daily update on Thursday which reflects data as of Wednesday at 6 p.m.

New Castle County reached an all-time high of 215 COVID-19 hospitalizations, an increase of nine compared to the day prior. Sussex County’s hospitalizations fell by seven, down to 63 while Kent County decreased by one to 71.

Of the 349 statewide hospitalizations, 44 are considered critical.

The DPH announced three new COVID-19-related deaths in its report on Thursday, bringing the state’s death toll to 806. All three of the most recent deaths were New Castle County residents and had underlying health conditions, the DPH said.

The three individuals ranged in age from 71 years old to 94 years old. One was a resident of a long-term care center, as the total of fatalities due to COVID-19 at long-term care centers reached 449.

New Castle County has recorded the most COVID-19-related deaths with 398, followed by Sussex County’s 269 and Kent County’s 139.

The DPH reported 645 new positive COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday at 6 p.m. This increased the state’s total to 43,036.

Delaware’s seven-day rolling average for new daily positive cases fell for the first time in the last 11 days. It is at 790.4 cases per day, the second-most all time behind the mark of 811.1 for Tuesday’s data.

The seven-day rolling average for percentage of positive tests also fell, going down to 9.9% after hitting 10% the day prior. For reference, the World Health Organization recommends a seven-day rolling average of 5% for percentage of positive tests.

That data is as of Monday at 6 p.m. due to a two-day lag to account for the time delay between the date of the test and the date the DPH receives the test result.

For the most recent day of available data, Monday, there were 662 positive cases out of 7,682 tests processed for a mark of 8.6% that day.

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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