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Rehoboth Beach lifts mask mandate, implements voluntary plastic straw ban

Karl Malgiero
Delaware Public Media

The city of Rehoboth Beach lifts its mask mandate in most public places, including the boardwalk - following the state’s move Friday.


Some city commissioners agree it’s important to urge residents to get vaccinated, and lifting the mask requirement for vaccinated individuals will help convince people on the fence to do so.


Discussion centered around mandating masks in government buildings, including City Hall, set to reopen in June.


City manager Sharon Lynn says some staff want masks to stay.


“The individuals who deal with the public on a one to one basis, front and center at the lobby entrance and also building and licensing did indicate to me today that they would feel more comfortable if the public were to wear a mask when they entered the building,” Lynn says.


Commissioners decided to only require unvaccinated people to mask up in city government buildings


Lynn says signage will start going up immediately, requiring masks for unvaccinated folks in public places and government buildings.


Commissioner Ed Chrzanowski wondered why the city’s emergency order is still in place at all, if it simply mirrors the governor’s orders. 


Mayor Stan Mills says, like the state, he prefers to keep the city under an emergency for now, noting -for example - the city's Meter-less Monday program is tied to the order.


Rehoboth Beach Commissioners also implemented a voluntary plastic straw ban.


But some say it doesn’t go far enough.

The Rehoboth Beach Environmental Committee’s proposal to the board of commissioners was a mandatory ban on all plastic straws in the city, except when they’re necessary for someone with a disability.


Commissioner Richard Byrne says it's in line with a bill being considered by the state legislature, which would ban most single use plastics and styrofoam statewide.


“Definitely the ground is being laid statewide for this in the next legislative session next year and if that becomes law that bans plastic straws except on request,” Byrne says.


Byrne supported a mandatory ban because lawmakers may not get to a single use plastics ban this year.


But it faced pushback from the business community, who sought to make it a voluntary initiative.


Commissioners ultimately backed that approach, though commissioner Pat Coluzzi argues a voluntary ban won’t do much to curb plastic straw use.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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