Gov. Carney orders bars at beaches to close
Gov. John Carney is ordering bars in beach communities to close ahead of the Fourth of July weekend and promising stronger enforcement of coronavirus precautions at restaurants.
Carney made the order at his weekly coronavirus briefing Tuesday. All bars in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach zip codes will close indefinitely Friday July 3rd. Statewide Delaware will remain in phase two of its reopening process.
This comes as the state notes an increase in the percent of positive COVID-19 cases among those between the ages of 18 and 30 in Delaware beach communities in recent weeks, with officials attributing the increase to lax compliance of regulations at bars and restaurants there.
Carney also points to data showing Delaware’s decline in cases leading up to the latest uptick as evidence of the effectiveness of state restrictions thus far.
“Now if you look at a similar diagram in Arizona, Florida, Texas, whatever, it won’t look like that,” said Carney Tuesday of a chart showing Delaware’s downward trend of COVID-19 cases. “You won’t see the decline that we’ve seen, and I think that’s kind of the point. The point is we did what we had to do and we pushed that curve down. Let’s not lose all that effort.”
State officials are also promising stricter enforcement of restrictions at bars and restaurants that do not comply. Punitive measures could include fines, a return to phase one restrictions or orders to close.
State Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said at Tuesday’s briefing the state has found a 14% positive rate among restaurant workers tested in beach towns.
“If we’re doing a lot of testing—which we are—and we see an increase in percent positive, that’s concerning,” said Rattay. “In fact, WHO says when you’re seeing a percent positive above five, that’s a real flag.”
Rattay adds the restaurant workers are asymptomatic.
She also says the state and its partner NORC have hired 150 contact tracers hired to track the spread of the virus.
The Delaware Department and Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) announced Tuesday it is limiting the number of vehicles allowed in Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Parks to approximately 60% of the parking capacity this weekend.
A protest against the state’s restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic was held on Route 13 in front of Dover Mall Tuesday evening. Those protesters were joined by Black Livers Matter protesters, who gathered opposite of the intial group of protesters.
When asked about the concerns raised by those protestring the restrictions he has imposed, Carney says the data "doesn't support their view of the world." He adds they have the right to protest, but also defended the current state of his emergency order.
"We are not closing down. We are staying in Phase 2," said Carney. "If you look at the things that are allowed in Phase 2, it's significantly open in Phase 2."