Delaware will lift its capacity restrictions for restaurants and other businesses May 21, Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday.
“COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities, but we have the tools to prevent severe illness and hospitalization,” Carney said in a prepared statement. “Get vaccinated. And ask to 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.”
Under the new rules, restaurants, retail stores, other businesses and churches will no longer have capacity limits – marking the first time in 14 months they have been able to open at full capacity. Businesses are currently limited to 50 percent capacity.
The state also plans to decrease social distancing requirements in businesses from 6 feet to 3 feet.
However, masks will still be required indoors, and customers must remain seated at bars and restaurants, unless the business gets approval for a dance floor from the Delaware Division of Public Health.
Events over 250 people will continue to require a permit from DPH to ensure compliance with COVID-19 precautions.
“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,” DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. “So let’s enter this next phase of the recovery responsibly, wearing masks indoors and getting vaccinated if you haven’t.”
As of Tuesday, Delaware is seeing an average of 227 new COVID-19 cases each day. That is a decrease from the spike in April but is still significantly higher than throughout most of last summer.
The numbers are even better in the City of Newark, which is averaging three new cases per day – the lowest since Sept. 1. Meanwhile, the University of Delaware reported just 16 cases last week, its lowest total since students returned to campus last fall.
Delaware has administered more than 769,000 vaccine doses, and more than 53 percent of Delawareans over age 16 have received at least their first dose.
UD has been hosting vaccine clinics on campus, and UD officials said a survey of 6,700 employees and students showed 71 percent have been vaccinated.
“We hope that we’ll be 95 percent normal by the fall, and we hope that we will be able to vaccinate the majority of our students before commencement and before they go home for the summer break,” UD President Dennis Assanis said.