Civic News
COVID-19 / Municipal government

Delaware is about to lift some major COVID-19 restrictions — but don’t get rid of your masks just yet

After more than a year, restaurants and (some) venues will be able to return to full capacity.

Open for business. (Photo by Pexels user Ketut Subiyanto used under a Creative Commons license)
Change is coming, Delaware.

On May 21, businesses in the state will be able to reopen at a level they haven’t been since March 12, 2020. On that Friday, restaurant, bars, retailers and other establishments will no longer have capacity limits, allowing dining rooms to go back to normal — almost.

Masks will still be required indoors, except when seated and eating, and there is still a social distancing requirement of three feet instead of six feet. That distancing requirement, though small, could prevent some businesses from going back to 100% capacity.

Indoor and outdoor theaters and event spaces that hold more than 250 people will need to get special approval, which could limit what venues like The Grand Opera House and The Playhouse on Rodney Square with 1,000+ seats can do, and may limit capacity at The Queen (600). While the changes won’t likely bring back the big festivals and conferences this year, it does open things up for smaller theaters, music venues and events.

Masks, as announced by President Joe Biden last week, are not required to be worn by vaccinated people outdoors, so expect to see a continuation in increased outdoor dining. For large outdoor events such as Blue Rocks games and concerts, masks may be required if distancing can’t be easily maintained.

The state reported that as of Monday, May 3, Delaware providers had administered 762,869 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 53% of Delawareans 16 and older having received at least one shot. That number will likely get closer to the 70 to 85% needed for herd immunity after the Pfizer vaccine is approved for emergency use by the FDA for ages 12 to 15, which is expected to happen within the next week.

“We are excited to be at the point in our state’s efforts where we can lift these restrictions, but it’s important to remember that our efforts are not over and we are not out of the woods yet. There will still be some risk of transmission, especially in crowded settings, with the more contagious variants circulating at high levels in our state,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, in a statement. “So let’s enter this next phase of the recovery responsibly, wearing masks indoors and getting vaccinated if you haven’t.”

Companies: State of Delaware
Series: Coronavirus

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