Banquet and gym occupancy limits increased in modified emergency order

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Gov. John Carney Friday signed the Seventh Modification to the Omnibus Emergency Order, increasing limits for indoor events and gym occupancy.

The changes became effective Friday morning.

Under the latest order, ​the limit on gatherings at businesses and other indoor spaces ​is increased from 10 people to 25, with the option for higher figures if the state approves a plan.

The 10-person limit had essentially shut down the banquet-wedding business in Delaware.

Hotel and conference center management had pressed for an end to the limit after an earlier modification led to restaurant occupancy rates being increased from 30 to 50 percent.

The changes come as the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decline after the holidays.

By contrast, neighboring Maryland moved to a 50 percent limit for both banquet rooms and restaurants. There had been indications that Delaware venues were losing events to businesses across the state line.

Under the new plan, organizers may also ​submit a plan to the Division of Public Health (DPH) to host larger events of up to 150 people. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people or up to 250 with an approved plan from DPH.

The limit for private indoor gatherings or events, such as dinner parties, house parties, and birthday parties, remains 10 people.

Event organizers must email DPH atHSPContact@delaware.govat least a week before the event ​for permission to host indoor gatherings over 25 people, up to 150 people, or outdoor gatherings over 50 people, up to 250 people.

Businesses and other event hosts also must continue to follow state and local restrictions, including masking and social distancing requirements.

Indoor gatherings with fewer than 25 people and outdoor gatherings with fewer than 50 people do not require a plan but must follow requirements that ban buffets, bars, and other things that lead to people congregating.

The order also raises the group exercise class capacity to 15 people, excluding staff, with additional restrictions in place.

Banquet capacity restriction doesn’t add up

Click here to read the seventh modification.

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