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Guest Column: Allow Phase 1 leisure in-state travel, overnight visitation

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Benjamin Gray

Southern Delaware Tourism’s board sent the following letter, signed by Chairman Benjamin Gray, to Gov. Carney on May 13.

On behalf of Southern Delaware Tourism (SDT), the Convention and Visitors Bureau for Sussex County Delaware, and its Board of Directors, I am writing this letter to ask for your consideration to allow for leisure in-state travel and overnight visitation in Phase One of your reopening plan. This request is based on but not limited to the following:

  • Hotels and motels are better equipped to practice social distancing than several large retailers that have been accepting customers during this time. Hotel guests are able to limit their interaction with staff and other guests by separating themselves in guest rooms, utilizing mobile check in options, and by adhering to strict cleanliness guidelines in place at each establishment.
  • The Delaware lodging industry, including but not limited to hotels and short-term rentals, is well equipped with the proper personal protective equipment and standard operating procedures necessary to keep guests safe and to eliminate the transfer of COVID-19.
  • The current standard operating procedures in place at each establishment correlate directly with guidelines issued from the CDC, and each establishment is using those parameters to protect employees and guests from any form of viral spread.
  • Allowing for this activity now (among Delaware residents) can serve as a public “stress-test” concerning CDC Requirements. State officials, law enforcement, and local businesses will have more time to make observations and adjustments with lower numbers of people frequenting their accommodations now versus a higher number when travel restrictions are gradually lifted throughout Phases 2 and 3 of Delaware’s recovery plan.


As the county’s destination marketing organization, Southern Delaware Tourism is working with the local chambers of commerce and the Delaware Tourism Office to market Delaware accommodations in a safe, responsible manner to the millions of guests who are waiting to revisit here. The more that we can do this with a consistent message and consistent public policies in place, the safer and faster our economic recovery will be.


Benjamin Gray is chairman of Southern Delaware Tourism. He is also general manager of the Bellmoor Inn & Spa in Rehoboth Beach

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