Gov. John Carney made two groups of vocal critics happy Tuesday when he announced that he’s changed his COVID-19 emergency order to allow high school athletes who play outside to take off their masks and that restaurants can now serve outdoor tables of 10.
Sports parents and restaurant owners have been pushing for the changes.
In the 10th revision to his COVID-19 emergency order, Carney suspends the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) masking regulations to ensure consistency his emergency orders and guidance from the Division of Public Health.
The ninth revision would have allowed it, but sports were still governed by DIAA rules, and even if the DIAA voted to change their rules — which it had two chances to do, but the vote failed — the kids couldn’t have taken off their masks until May under regular rule practices.
Carney created a shortcut.
Student athletes participating in the interscholastic sports of baseball, golf, girls’ lacrosse, girls’ soccer, softball, tennis, and track and field must wear face coverings except when actively engaged in practice or game play while on the field, the new revision says.
While restaurants continue to push for allowing more people inside to dine, Carney would not do that. But he did say that restaurants now can serve 10 people at an outdoor table. It previously had been limited to 6.
He also changed rules about surface cleaning and disinfection, which his press release said reflected advances in the scientific community’s understanding about how the virus is spread.
Among the changes:
- Food and drink establishments no longer have to put a sign on the table saying only customers from the same household may share a table; condiments no longer must be provided in single-use or re-usable containers; restaurants don’t have to wait until a party is seated to put out cups, lids, napkins and straws.
- Beach towns no longer have to clean bathrooms, boardwalk railings and benches multiple times per day.
- Individuals at the beach who have underlying conditions or are over 65 are no longer encouraged to shelter in place.
- Child care homes and centers may resume off-site field trips.
- Schools and child cares no longer have to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces every 15 minutes to two hours.
- High-touch surfaces on buses no longer must be cleaned between every bus run.
- Bathrooms and high-touch services no longer have to be cleaned every 15 minutes during the event.
- Businesses no longer have to disinfect counter surfaces, pin pads or cast registers and no longer have to limit cash transactions.
- Businesses no longer have to discourage use of shared phones, desks, workstations, radios and wearable technology or disinfect those items after they are used.
- Businesses no longer have tos tagger services, appointments or other scheduled gatherings and events to allow for a thorough cleaning and disinfecting.
Carney said the most important thing Delawareans can do right now is to get vaccinated, observe social distancing and other prevention methods and avoid large gatherings where the virus can easily spread.