Movie theaters, fitness centers, health spas and bowling alleys will close beginning tomorrow, as Governor John Carney issued a second modification to his State of Emergency declaration made earlier this week.
The actions to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Delaware follow his decision to shut in-house dining at bars and restaurants.
Restaurants, bars can serve alcohol to-go
Carney updated that decree today, also adding that any restaurant, brewpub, tavern or taproom with a valid on-premise license can now sell alcoholic beverages as part of transactions for take-out food, delivery or drive through food service.
The easing of restrictions on the establishments limits alcohol sales to 40 percent of the total transaction. The containers must be securely closed and alcoholic beverages cannot be consumed on-site. The revised policy goes into effect at 8:00 pm tonight and will last until the State of Emergency is rescinded.
Carney said the state is being forced to make many difficult decisions at this time and that his administration is “constantly reevaluating” guidance.
“For anyone out there who doesn’t think this is serious, I hope that our actions over the last few days have indicated how wrong that thinking is,” said Governor John Carney at today’s late afternoon press conference in Wilmington.
“I am acutely aware of how seriously this is affecting thousands of business owners and their employees across our state. I’ve spent my first three years as governor tried to expand business in Delaware. And so it pains me to be in a position to have to shut them down at this time,” he said.
Relief for employees laid off
Expressing concern for the thousands of service industry employees who will be affected by the rounds of closures, Carney announced a series of steps he has undertaken to provide relief to businesses during this crisis. One of the measures includes a hospitality emergency loan program, which will provide no-interest loans capped at $10,000 per business per month.
“The Department of Labor will begin processing unemployment claims as they are received, with a goal of benefits coming within a week. Employees earning part-time income can collect benefits as long as they demonstrate decreased hours and earnings. And that’s important. The Department of Labor will not classify tipped employees as minimum wage earners as long as their tips are recorded as wages,” the Governor told reporters today.
Health officials say any business that remains open is strongly encouraged to have hand sanitizers or handwashing stations available for its employees and patrons.
The updates go into effect at 8:00 am tomorrow, March 19, and will last until the State of Emergency is rescinded.
Expanded access to telemedicine
Governor Carney also temporarily lifted regulations to expand access to telemedicine. Under the modified declaration:
- Patients do not need to present in-person before telemedicine services may be provided.
- Delaware residents do not need to be present in Delaware at the time the telemedicine services are provided.
- Any out of state healthcare provider who would be permitted to provide telemedicine services in Delaware if they were licensed under Title 24 may provide telemedicine services to a Delaware resident if they hold an active license in another jurisdiction.
Wednesday’s modification to Governor Carney’s emergency declaration includes:
- Restaurants, bars and taverns shall only provide food and beverage service through take-out, drive-thru, hotel room service, and off-premises delivery to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Bans public gatherings of 50 or more people for eight weeks or until the State of Emergency is rescinded
- Closes gaming activity at Delaware casinos.
- Authorizes Delaware’s Secretary of Labor to develop emergency rules to protect Delaware workers and ensure that unemployment benefits are available for Delawareans whose jobs are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
- Restricts senior center, nursing home/retirement facility, assisted-living facility, etc. to permit a gathering of more than 10 persons that includes any person aged 60 or over, or any person with an underlying health condition that puts any person in attendance at increased risk if exposed to COVID-19.
- Authorizes Delaware Emergency Management Agency and Delaware Division of Public Health to cancel gatherings for public health reasons.
Click here the full modified State of Emergency declaration and additional details.