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Carney eyes June 15 for start of Phase 2

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WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday that he is targeting June 15 for the start of Phase 2 in Delaware’s economic reopening, which raises occupancy and gathering limits, and allows childcare to all.

Gov. John Carney addresses the economic recovery of the state. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

The governor’s announcement came just one day after the state entered Phase 1 of the reopening plan and sticks to the plan for 14-day waits between phases to ensure that COVID-19 cases don’t spike following the curbing of restrictions.

As of Monday, the state’s 157 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 were the fewest in nearly two months. The percentage of positive COVID-19 test results have been cut in half over the past two weeks, sitting at about 5% on Monday.

The state’s public health officials will continue to watch for spikes in positive cases and hospitalizations, noting that the large groups of demonstrators meeting in recent days to protest police brutality come with increased risk of transmission.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Carney said during his biweekly press conference. “But what I’ve seen on the ground, by and large, has been very positive.”

Phase 1, which began Monday, saw the lifting of restrictions on out-of-state travelers and short-term rentals. It also allowed sit-down dining and in-person shopping at all retail stores for the first time since March, and outdoor gatherings up to 250 people and indoor gatherings up to 10 people with proper precautions.

In Phase 2, the state will raise the occupancy limit on businesses from 30% to 60% and allow indoor gatherings of up to 50 people. Social distancing guidelines must continue to be observed and face masks used in public. Gyms and personal care systems were the only sectors identified by Carney as remaining at 30% capacity in Phase 2.

In the meantime, Carney also announced that personal care services, including hair and nail salons, massage therapists, and tattoo parlors could reopen on an appointment-only basis staring June 8. Those businesses, outside of hair salons which have been able to service “essential” workers, did not make the initial cut for Phase 1.

“I know there are a lot of folks who run these [personal care] businesses as well as those of us who need haircuts who want to see those businesses open,” Carney said.

Childcare centers will also be allowed to fully reopen in Phase 2 after also being limited to serving “essential” workers in the past few months.

“That’s a very critical piece of it, as you would all know,” Carney said. “But if you’re able to keep your children home, please do so, because we do need to keep smaller group sizes there.”

Summer camps and summer school will also reopen in Phase 2, but leaders will be required to submit a written plan for enforcing guidelines to stem the virus’s transmission.

According to a detailed plan for Phase 2, bars will be allowed to reopen June 15 with reduced capacity. They have been prohibited from opening in Phase 1, which only allowed establishments that served food to be open for sit-down service.

By Jacob Owens

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