Delaware Churches could open next week, playgrounds to remain closed

Gov. Carney cited encouraging trends in COVID-19 testing data today

Governor Carney struck a positive tone in his regular Friday press briefing today, as he unveiled guidance to Delawareans in advance of the state’s phased reopening and a hint that places of worship will soon reopen.

Carney said he will unveil a plan on Monday that could allow churches and other places of worship to welcome parishioners back for services. 

The governor emphasized that his administration did not specifically “close churches,” but that by limiting public gatherings to 10 or fewer people, it effectively meant that most places of worship could no longer host most services.


Carney said he has consulted religious leaders across the state this past week to get their advice as the state develops guidance on how churches could safely reopen sooner than Phase 2, when larger groups can begin to gather.

Carney also released a new document which provides guidance surrounding the rolling approach to the Phase 1 reopening, which starts June 1. The plan includes information about youth sports and summer camps, and capacity requirements for every type of business.

Click here for the complete plan:

Summer campers at Camp Arrowhead in Lewes, which announced last week that they will not open at all this summer

Highlights of the Phase 1 include:

  • Youth sports and other types of physical activity for children may resume provided that participants can social distance at all times during activities (i.e., no contact between participants and/or coaches) and no competitions held during Phase 1
  • Museums, retailers, fitness studios, malls, casinos and hair salons will be able to open at 30% of capacity
  • Restaurants can open but must limit capacity to 30% of fire code occupancy, excluding staff and common areas where employees congregate
  • Child care facilities still only open to employees of essential and/or reopened businesses

These places may not open in Phase 1 – no date has been provided for their opening

  • Close contact personal services. This includes nail salons, spas, facials, waxing services and similar as well as tattoo parlors and massage parlors.
  • Schools, playgrounds and summer camps
  • Sporting facilities and venues (professional and amateur) such as arcades, bowling alleys, indoor skating rinks (ice and non-ice), martial arts studios, dance studios, indoor tennis and similar indoor athletic facilities. (More information in Delaware’s Reopening Phase 1 plan.)

Throughout today’s press briefing, the Governor reiterated that he hopes Delawareans will continue to exercise caution as limitations are lessened and economic activity resumes.

In the 10 weeks since Delaware reported its first case of novel coronavirus, Governor Carney has had no shortage of advice from individuals, business owners and healthcare professionals.

“For the first several weeks, I remember all the calls that I was getting and the pressure I was getting. What I was hearing from the public was that we were moving too slow in shutting sectors of the economy down… And then for the last several weeks now, more and more I’m hearing that we’re not moving fast enough or that we are moving too slow in reopening the economy.”


But Carney was optimistic, saying the state “continues to flatten the curve” and citing a number of positive trending datasets – particularly the state’s hospitalization rate for COVID-19 positive patients, which is well below capacity.

Carney also said the current number of people testing positive for the disease is falling somewhere between 12% and 15%, below the early highs of 30% that were reported in April.

Click here to see Delaware’s coronavirus data dashboard.

The Delaware Division of Public Health’s dashboard as of May 14 shows the new hospitalization rate and percentage of people testing positive to COVID-19 both declining

However, he said now is not the time to let down.

“Now is the time to be careful to continue to stay at home impossible to practice appropriate personal hygiene and to continue to lean into the efforts to protect yourselves and the broader community and to be thoughtful of others around you,” he said.

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.

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