Carney to end restaurant and public venue capacity limits on May 21

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Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health announced the lifting of Covid-19-related capacity restrictions in public places effective in the latter part of May.

Effective on May 21

  • All capacity restrictions inside restaurants, retail, other business establishments, and houses of worship will be lifted. Facilities will be able to use as much capacity as social distancing requirements will allow.
  • Masks will still be required indoors to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
  • Outdoors, Delawareans are asked to follow masking guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Risk for Covid-19 spread increases in large crowds that include unvaccinated people. In those cases, CDC recommends that everyone continue to wear a mask. DPH may require masks for crowded venues and large gatherings, including concerts, sporting events, etc.
  • Social distancing requirements will move from 6 feet to 3 feet.
  • Customers must continue to remain seated indoors and outdoors at bars and restaurants unless a plan for dance floors and other areas is approved by DPH, and distancing of at least three feet should be maintained.
  • Events over 250 people indoors and outdoors will still require plan approval from DPH to ensure compliance with precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The changes will be formalized in an upcoming modification to Carney’s Covid-19 emergency order.

“Covid-19 is still circulating in our communities, but we have the tools to prevent severe illness and hospitalization,” said Carney. “Get vaccinated. And ask your friends and family if they’ve gotten their shot. That’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself and those you love.”

Carney announced that as of May 3, Delaware providers had administered 762,869 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. More than 53 percent of Delawareans 16 and older have received at least one dose.

“We are excited to be at the point in our state’s efforts where we can lift these restrictions, but it’s important to remember that our efforts are not over, and we are not out of the woods yet. There will still be some risk of transmission, especially in crowded settings, with the more contagious variants circulating at high levels in our state,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health.

The decision is likely to draw criticism over waiting to lift the capacity cap well into May. It will ease headaches for beach businesses during Memorial Day weekend.

Delaware still has an elevated number of Covid-19 cases, despite the high rate of vaccinations.

Other states in the region are in the process of lifting capacity residents, and the governor has been criticized for being slow to act on easing the curbs.

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