Bar service to resume at Delaware beaches this weekend

WILMINGTON — Bars in Delaware’s beach communities can resume service this weekend with restrictions, the Delaware Division of Public Health announced on Tuesday.

Patrons are now permitted to sit at bars in the beach communities but they must have a reservation and must order food. Seats must also be socially distanced between each household.

“We’re looking to help them do this in a safe way,” Gov. John Carney said.

Bar seating has been open throughout the state since June 15 when Phase 2 of Delaware’s reopening from the shutdown due to COVID-19 began. But bar seating at Delaware’s beaches was banned on June 30 after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in those zip codes.

Jamie Mack, the DPH’s chief of Health Systems Protection, credited establishments at the beaches for how seriously they’ve treated improving their compliance to adhere to all COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“We do recognize that maybe the initial shutdown in that area had a heavy impact on some smaller establishments that rely on patrons sitting at the bar for dinner as part of their table service essentially,” Mr. Mack said. “This allows them to have a few more seats in the facility.”

With bar seating opening on the busy Labor Day weekend, Gov. Carney said he hopes Delawareans will follow all guidelines put in place.

“This is a test for us,” Gov. Carney said. “I know people can pull together and follow the guidance. It really comes down to wearing a face covering. It’s a simple thing to do that’s so incredibly protective.”

Mr. Mack said his team did more than 400 compliance checks throughout the state in August and is hoping to continue to ramp up enforcement in September. He said 150 of those checks came away with no violations.

The most common complaint and violation is the lack of face coverings in businesses, Mr. Mack said. A business’ first violation typically results in education while repeat offenders are subject to fines and possible closures.

“We were not as patient with some of facilities as we have been in the past,” Mr. Mack said of August. “We have now issued fines and taken some other enforcement actions, in at least one instance, we walked into a place and the conditions were concerning enough that they were closed on the spot.”

Mr. Mack said the one facility which was shutdown due to noncompliance was cleaned out with assistance from the local police department and later allowed to reopen.

“We’re going to have to be a little bit harder on enforcement and ramp that up a little bit,” Gov. Carney said. “We have all these folks following the rules that have compliance within their establishments who get hurt by the few who continue to thumb their nose at it. If you do thumb your nose at it, we’re going to fine you or close you down. Noncompliance is really concerning because it affects all of us.”

After increased focus on the beach areas in August, Mr. Mark said there will now be greater enforcement in college areas in September for compliance checks. Much of the focus will be on nights and weekends, which tend to draw the mosts crowds.

Mr. Mack said compliance has gotten better throughout the course of the pandemic, not worse.

“The educational visits have had a lot of impact,” Mr. Mack said. “We’ve had several places where we recognized when we went back a second time we’ve seen improvement. We’ve even got some feedback from folks who initially sent us complaints that upon further visits that they’ve seen improvements as well.”


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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