State announces restaurant curfew and other new coronavirus restrictions to confront winter surge
The state is instituting more restrictions to address the winter surge of the coronavirus, including a 10 p.m. curfew at restaurants and bars.Gov. Carney announced the restrictions Thursday, saying the goal is to protect Delaware’s hospital capacity and save lives.
“Health care workers are on the job around the clock, caring for the sick," Carney said in a statement. "We all need to follow their lead and do our part to protect others."
Under the new restrictions, which go into effect Dec. 14, businesses above 100,000 square feet are limited to 20 percent of fire capacity. Retail below 5,000 square feet, all houses of worship and funeral services are limited to 40 percent of capacity.
All other businesses, including most retail stores, are limited to 30 percent of capacity. Restaurants remain at 30 percent capacity, but the state is requiring them to have signs on each table stating that parties must be from the same household. Mall food courts are capped at 20 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.
Indoor gatherings at businesses or indoor spaces open to the public must be limited to the lesser of 30 percent of the venue’s stated fire capacity or 10 people. Exercise classes at gyms are limited to 10 people, and exercise machines must be spaced 10 feet apart.
The state will begin a zero-tolerance enforcement policy for businesses during the stay-at-home advisory, which starts Dec. 14. A first violation of COVID-19 restrictions will result in an immediate civil fine. A second violation will result in closure, until the establishment submits a reopening plan approved by the state Division of Public Health.
Delaware continues to see a record number of COVID-related hospitalizations. A total of 349 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday, with 44 people in critical condition.
The percent of tests coming back positive has trended upward over the past two weeks and sits at a level that indicates significant community spread, according to the state.
Delaware saw 645 new cases of the virus Wednesday, the lowest daily total in a week. It came on the heels of a near record 931 cases Tuesday and a record 936 last Thursday.
There were three new COVID-related deaths Wednesday, bringing Delaware’s death toll from the virus to 806.
“Any interaction is riskier when community spread is at current levels,” Gov. Carney said Thursday. “Please take this seriously.”
This story has been updated.