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Carney lifts 10 p.m. Delaware restaurant curfew

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Gov. John Carney announced Jan. 8 that he was lifting the 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants and bars in Delaware. | DBT FILE PHOTO

WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney announced Friday morning that he was lifting the 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants and bars in Delaware spurred by rising COVID-19 cases, effective immediately.

Establishments will still have to prominently display signage on tables stating that parties must be from the same household and share messaging on masking compliance, including Delaware’s mandatory indoor mask usage.

The curfew was enacted Dec. 14, as state public health officials watched positive COVID-19 cases rise to all-time daily highs and they tried to prevent overtaxing hospitals. They argued that late-night hours, often mixing with drinking, led to higher risk of viral transmission, but the Delaware Restaurant Association has pushed back against the state’s arguments and called for more precise contact tracing to determine where spread is occurring.

“As we come out of the winter holiday season, we are keeping these restrictions in place so that we can protect Delaware’s hospital capacity and protect lives,” the governor said in a prepared statement announcing the move. “We are balancing the need for a healthy community and a healthy economy, but we can’t let our guard down. Let’s all do our part, and do what works. Wear a mask. Don’t gather socially with friends or family outside your household. Stay vigilant.”

In a Friday statement, DRA President and CEO Carrie Leishman said the industry is pleased with the move.

“Restaurant data across the country as well as our inconsistent state data has proven that COVID is not spread inside a regulated restaurant with structured seating and persistent sanitation protocols. Household parties and unmasked, unregulated gatherings are the cause of most cases. By allowing people once again to spread out and safely dine at a restaurant it helps prevent people from taking risks within unregulated settings,” she said. 

The latest modification also allows all athletic games, matches, and competitions to resume, provided that the maximum occupancy is 30%, which includes athletes, coaches, and other employees or staff. One person may accompany an athlete and are not included in the 30% capacity limit, however, additional spectators are not permitted to attend.

Those allowances come following criticism from families with high school athletes who have contended with varying attendance policies at games, with many often watching from outside of football field gates. The winter season for high school sports is getting underway, and with most sports taking place indoors, such allowances were necessary for any fan attendance.

Any individual who participates in an out-of-state tournament or competition must continue to immediately self-quarantine in accordance with Delaware Division of Public Health guidance from the time of entry into Delaware or for the duration of the individual’s presence in Delaware, whichever period is shorter. Teams participating in any practice, game, match, or competition where COVID-19 spread is identified by the DPH must immediately refrain from continued participation in practices, games, matches, or competitions and individuals must quarantine in accordance with state guidance.

The updated order also authorizes DPH to issue cease and desist orders to any team with high or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases or that does not comply with the requirements in the state of emergency order.

 By Jacob Owens

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