With Memorial Day behind us, the unofficial start to the beach season is here. Many are itching to shake off the quarantine blues and head to the Delaware beaches as they have every summer—but the sun and surf is accompanied by something else this year: social distancing.
Gov. John Carney recently lifted restrictions on the Delaware beaches and community pools for state residents starting Friday, May 22 at 5 p.m. Another update lifts the short-term rental ban and out of state quarantine on June 1. But strict hygiene and social distancing requirements are still to be followed.
“Summer at the beach and the pool is a huge part of life for so many Delawareans. As we ease our way into a new normal, we’re trying to find ways for Delawareans to enjoy the outdoors and the company of their families,” said Carney in a statement from the governor’s office.
Before you dig out your flip flops and flock to the coast, here are some guidelines to be aware of.
Non-Delawareans looking to take a trip to the beach will find that out-of-state travelers will not have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, starting June 1.
Previously, Delaware State Police stationed troopers at routes typically used by out-of-state travelers to enforce the mandatory quarantine, and those living out of state who wished to visit their beach homes were permitted to as long as they followed the mandatory quarantine mandate.
In April, Carney issued a mandate that banned short-term rentals including vacation home rentals, hotels, motels, and condo rentals to help fight the spread of COVID-19. Starting June 1, that ban is lifted.
Face coverings must be worn on the boardwalk, and are encouraged on the beach.
People over 65 and those with underlying health conditions should continue to shelter in place. All beachgoers should avoid water fountains.
Towns are required to identify enforcement teams, and are encouraged to “designate Beach Ambassadors to educate beachgoers about social distancing and serve as liaisons to law enforcement,” according to the announcement.
Arcade games will be closed on the boardwalk, and public facilities like bathrooms, railings and benches must be cleaned multiple times a day. Towns are required to designate six-foot intervals where lines forms, and are encouraged to limit parking spaces and access points to the beach.
Beaches at some of the state parks may limit capacity to vehicles to enforce social distancing, according to the announcement.
However, everyone in the vehicle must be from the same household. Surf fishing access may also be limited to avoid overcrowding.
Swim practices and lessons are not permitted. Public swimming pools regulated by the Division of Public Health must comply with requirements. Private pools at residences are not covered by these guidelines.
Delaware restaurants are able to open indoor spaces at 30 percent capacity starting on June 1.
Ice cream shops and trucks are now open for curbside pickup or takeout with strict social distancing measures. Food and drink concessions are restricted to takeout or delivery service, and must follow restaurant regulations. Customers must be six feet apart when waiting in line.
Beach rentals such as umbrellas and chairs are permitted, as long as they are sanitized between each rental.
Outdoor gatherings up to 250 people are permitted in Phase 1 if they follow guidelines.
Updated May 28, 2020