The Rehoboth-Dewey Chamber of Commerce says the Delaware beach communities saw a “devastatingly” low turnout for the Fourth of July weekend.
The chamber says overnight rentals in downtown Rehoboth Beach alone lost more than $700,000 in cancellations over the weekend. And local businesses suffered an estimated 50% loss in revenue.
Carol Everhart is President and CEO of the Chamber. She attributes the cancellations to a recent mandate requiring people to wear a mask when on the beach.
“The minute that the mandate came out that in Rehoboth Beach you must wear a mask on the beach, it was like a light switch went off and the cancellations started rolling in and continued to roll in through the weekend,” said Everhart.
Everhart notes area businesses rely on big summer weekends for much of their revenue, and hotel occupancy has been down all summer — often by as much as 90% compared to other years.
“Last weekend was the first weekend we came close to matching a comparison with last year and then this happened,” Everhart said. “So that’s the statistics we’re gathering right now and I can tell you it’s going to be devastating.”
Everhart and the rest of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors wrote a letter to the Rehoboth and Dewey commissioners requesting the mask mandate at beaches be rescinded.