As the summer comes to a close and uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic’s future lingers, fall tourism seeks to provide a little escape for anyone wishing to get out and about—with some precautions.
“Beaches will definitely look different in the same ways that the rest of society is looking different during these unprecedented times,” says Caitlyn Chaney, marketing assistant at Southern Delaware Tourism. “People will be wearing masks and will be generally taking more caution to keep their distance from others. Spreading out on the beach will be the norm.”
For visitors who want to spend time outside hiking and biking, social distancing and wearing masks—along with other necessary mandates including online reservations for equipment and maximum capacity—will be required throughout the season.
“[It is] impossible to answer how many people will be on the beaches this fall,” says Betsy Reamer, executive director of the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. “Circumstances change from week to week, sometimes from hour to hour. While we will continue to market that Lewes is safe to come, with fun things to do, we also want visitors to be safe.”
In response to this new normal, local businesses and organizations are beginning to plan outdoor events, such as festivals, exhibitions and tournaments for September and October, pending both the condition of the state and the total number of COVID-19 cases closer to the start of the season.
“During Phase 2, there will still be capacity restrictions on restaurants, stores and other businesses, so visitors may encounter lines, longer waits and employees checking guests in at certain businesses and times of the day,” Chaney says.
As for the beaches, depending on executive decisions made to reopen certain institutions, they have the potential to be safe as long as mandatory regulations continue to be enforced, officials say.
“Come the fall, it will depend on which phase the state of Delaware is in, or if a continuation of what is already being done is still in existence,” Reamer says. “Usually the beaches are not as crowded in the fall as they are in the summer, but depending on, say, if schools do not reopen, families will be looking for something to do, and most likely will go to the beach.”
In the meantime, tourism offices continue to follow evolving protocols that focus on the safety of residents and visitors.
“This pandemic and recovery period have caused us to be even more nimble and adaptive to a very dynamic time,” Chaney says. “[While] at this juncture we do not know exactly what the fall will bring, we certainly expect much less…larger events due to current CDC restrictions.”