Breaking: Delaware beaches will open in time for Memorial Day weekend

The Rehoboth Beach boardwalk

The state’s beaches, ice cream shops and swimming pools will open just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

Governor John Carney made the announcement today, saying ice cream shops and trucks can start operating tomorrow as of 5 pm and lifting restrictions on Delaware beaches and pools, which will open at 5:00 pm on May 22nd. Social distancing requirements and other restrictions will still be in place.

Carney also said ice cream shops and trucks will reopen with restrictions effective 5:00 p.m. this Friday, May 15.


The announcements come following mounting pressure from beach communities and small businesses who rely on the three-month summer season for an overwhelming percentage of their annual revenue.

The reopening comes with continuing restrictions, including a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers, which will make visits to Delaware beaches nearly impossible for current residents of nearby states.  State Police will be monitoring for out of state sun-lovers.

Meanwhile, a ban on short term rentals also remains in effect.


Carney said beachgoers must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and anyone outside their household.

Face coverings must be worn on the boardwalk and are encouraged on the beach.

The announcement about the beaches does not change current limitations on restaurants and bars, who are still limited to delivery and take-out services only.  So there will be no walk-in dining at boardwalk eateries.

“Angelo” posted this beautiful picture to the Rehoboth Beach Facebook page in 2016

Under Thursday’s announcement, community pools are limited to 20 percent of regular capacity. Swim lessons or practices of swim teams are not permitted.

Rita’s Water ice to open

For the last several weeks, ice cream shops could only offer curb-side service. But starting tomorrow ice cream and water ice stores will be able to serve customers from windows and can open their doors to take-out with strict social distancing measures. Children under 12-years-old must be accompanied by an adult.

The owner of Rita’s Water Ice on 202 already stopped by Sweet Lucy’s Ice Cream & Treats to talk about tomorrow’s reopening. With temps expected to hit the low 80s tomorrow, this will be a welcome treat to many who have missed these Delaware favorites. Sweet Nel’s and Woodside Creamery will also allow customers inside to choose their favorite flavors.


Beaches at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks may limit capacity to vehicles to enforce social distancing. Carney announced Thursday that current surf fishing restrictions on the number of individuals allowed per vehicle will be lifted on May 22 at 5:00 p.m. However, all individuals in the vehicle must be from the same household.

To enforce the out-of-state quarantine as Delaware beaches reopen, Delaware State Police will station troopers at routes typically used by out-of-state travelers. Travelers will be stopped, asked a series of questions, and given information about the 14-day quarantine requirement under Governor Carney’s State of Emergency declaration.

Details below outline requirements for towns, beachgoers and vendors:

Towns must:

  • Clean bathrooms, boardwalk railings, benches multiple times per day
  • Close arcade games on boardwalk
  • Demarcate (using tape, cones, etc.) 6 feet intervals in front of certain retail on boardwalks where lines are likely to form, entrances to the beach, or any other area where congregating or waiting in lines is likely to occur
  • Identify enforcement teams

Towns are recommended to:

  • Implement systems to limit capacity (like timed or day passes) on the beach
  • Limit parking spaces
  • Limit access points
  • Designate Beach Ambassadors to educate beachgoers about social distancing and serve as liaisons to law enforcement
  • Station Beach Ambassadors at access points


Regulations for beachgoers:

  • Face coverings are required on boardwalk and encouraged on the beach
  • Members of different households must remain 6 feet apart at all times
  • Individuals with underlying health conditions or who are over 65-years-old should continue to shelter in place.
  • Avoid water fountains.

Regulations for on-premise beach vendors:

  • Food and beverage concession vendors must follow restaurant regulations and may only provide take-out or delivery service. Vendors must wear face coverings. Customers must be 6 feet apart while waiting in line.
  • The rental of items like umbrellas, chairs, mats, kayaks, etc. are allowed so long as the vendor properly disinfects between each use/rental.


 Reopen Delaware’s “Storm the Beach” rally still on

Despite today’s news, Reopen Delaware still plans to host a “Storm the Beach” rally at Noon this Saturday in Rehoboth. Facebook group administrator Richard Bishop said that because shops and restaurants are still not fully open, his group is pressing on with its demonstration.

“We’ve changed focus just a little bit. We are certainly happy with any manner of forward progress, and today the Governor demonstrated progress,” said Bishop. 

“But Delaware is still not fully open — businesses and restaurants are not fully open. Businesses are being crushed by the extended closures. We are not going rest until the state is fully open,” he said. 

This is the same group that demonstrated at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington on May 1. That group held a demonstration on the same day that “Delawareans Against Excessive Quarantine” held a rally in Dover.

Related: Delawareans swarm state capitol to ‘Reopen Delaware’

The two groups are unrelated with seemingly similar goals — that the governor’s target for a gradual reopening of the economy starting June 1 isn’t enough.

Bishop says counter demonstrators plan to attend his “peaceful” rally on Saturday, which will take place at the Rehoboth Beach bandstand. “We will have speakers, singers, people announcing runs for office, and contests for ‘best signs,'” he said. The City of Rehoboth has posted information that they will be ramping up police to monitor protesters on Saturday.

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