Masks

People wear masks at the Newark Reservoir in April.

A recent poll by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication showed widespread support for mask requirements in Delaware.

The poll was conducted in late September and surveyed 976 people.

It found that 78 percent of Delawareans support requiring everyone to wear masks in public, and only 19 percent oppose such a requirement.

However, fewer people say they actually abide by the requirements. According to the poll, 70 percent of Delawareans always wear masks when outside their homes, 15 percent wear masks very often, and 10 percent sometimes wear them. Four percent said they never wear masks.

Under Delaware’s mask requirement, which took effect April 28, masks are required inside businesses and also in outdoor public places where social distancing is not feasible.

While the Newark area has seen a high compliance rate inside businesses, the lack of mask wearing on Main Street has sparked concern in recent weeks.

The city had informal, internal discussions about an ordinance that would mandate masks on Main Street and other heavily-trafficked pedestrian areas, but it was never debated publicly.

Late last month, Mayor Jerry Clifton voiced his support for such an ordinance. He said he’s heard from a number of people who say they are avoiding Main Street because of concerns about the lack of mask wearing.

“That, to me, is quite troublesome. I think over the next few weeks, maybe we need to look at something like this,” he said, before conceding that enforcement could prove challenging.

Newark’s parking enforcement officers have been handing out free masks and reminding people to wear them, but last week, the city manager’s report to council noted that officials are seeing “slightly declining compliance/more complacency with mask wearing” and added that numerous people rejected masks when offered.

Other findings of the UD poll included:

• Despite facing criticism from those opposed to pandemic-related restrictions, Gov. John Carney is the most favorably viewed statewide official – garnering a 63 percent approval rating. Twenty-seven percent of people view him unfavorably, and 10 percent were not familiar enough with him to provide an opinion.

• Meanwhile 58 percent view Sen. Chris Coons favorably, 54 percent view Sen. Tom Carper favorably, and 53 percent view Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester favorably.

• Nearly half of Delawareans have never heard of or don’t know enough about Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and Attorney General Kathy Jennings.

• Most Delawareans are concerned about potential problems with the election. Of those polled, 68 percent are concerned that eligible voters will not be allowed to vote, and 64 percent are concerned about the election being rigged. In addition, 60 percent are concerned about voter fraud.

• Eighty-one percent of Delawareans support protecting transgender students from discrimination, up from 75 percent two years ago.

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