Delaware announces major changes to COVID-19 restrictions

WILMINGTON, Delaware (WPVI) -- Governor John Carney and Delaware health officials on Tuesday announced major upcoming changes to the state's COVID-19 restrictions.

In two weeks, the state will lift capacity limits at businesses and places of worship, and scale down social distancing to three feet. Masks are still mandatory indoors.

The governor's announcement is the light at the end of the tunnel for many.

"It seems like a lot less of a concern now that more people are vaccinated," said Nick Donatelli of Wilmington.

As of May 3, Delaware providers had administered 762,869 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than 53% of Delawareans 16 and older have received at least one shot.

But some residents remain apprehensive about the rollback.

"I think we just need a little bit more time to keep things in place," said Brita T. of Wilmington.

Effective Friday, May 21:

- All capacity restrictions inside restaurants, retail, other business establishments and houses of worship will be lifted. Facilities will be able to use as much capacity as social distancing requirements will allow.
- Masks will still be required indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Outdoors, Delawareans should follow masking guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Risk for COVID-19 spread increases in large crowds that include unvaccinated people. In those cases, CDC recommends that everyone continue to wear a mask. DPH may require masks for crowded venues and large gatherings including concerts, sporting events, etc.
- Social distancing requirements will move from 6 feet to 3 feet.
- Customers must continue to remain seated indoors and outdoors at bars and restaurants unless a plan for dance floors and other areas is approved by DPH, and distancing of at least 3 feet should be maintained.

- Events over 250 people indoors and outdoors will still require plan approval from DPH to ensure compliance with basic precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- The changes will be formalized in an upcoming modification to Governor Carney's COVID-19 emergency order.

"COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities but we have the tools to prevent severe illness and hospitalization," said Carney. "Get vaccinated. And ask your friends and family if they've gotten their shot. That's the best thing you can do to protect yourself and those you love."

Delaware's announcement comes on the same day as Pennsylvania said it will lift all COVID-19 restrictions - except an order to wear a mask while in public - on Memorial Day.
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