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Delaware Gov. John Carney adjusts limits on church attendance to 40 percent of fire capacity

The Chrism Mass was celebrated by Bishop Malooly at Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington on July 16. Priests in attendance wore masks and practiced social distancing in accordance to health guidelines. (Dialog photo/Don Blake)

The newest regulations from Delaware Gov. John Carney formally imposing COVID-19 restrictions updated the number of people allowed to gather at houses of worship to 40 percent of stated fire capacity.

The previous regulation announced last month was 30 percent of capacity, up to 100 people. The newest regulation does not cap the number of people other than the capacity percentage.

Delaware Gov. John Carney at a news conference Nov. 17.

Carney on Thursday signed the fourth revision to the omnibus emergency order, announcing additional restrictions to confront the winter surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Delaware. They include:

  • Businesses above 100,000 square feet are limited to 20 percent of stated fire capacity.
  • All other businesses, including most retail stores and all restaurants, are limited to 30 percent of stated fire capacity.
  • Retail below 5,000 square feet, all Houses of Worship, and funeral services are limited to 40 percent of stated fire capacity.
  • A 10 p.m. curfew will be imposed at Delaware restaurants and bars.
  • Exercise classes at gyms are limited to 10 people and exercise machines must be spaced 10 feet apart
  • Indoor gatherings at businesses or indoor spaces open to the public must be limited to the lesser of 30 percent of the venue’s stated fire capacity, or 10 people.

Click here to read Carney’s modification.

Employees are excluded from business capacity restriction calculations.

All new restrictions took effect Dec. 14. Carney’s fourth revision also formally authorizes previously announced restrictions:

  • Stay-at-Home Advisory: Delawareans are strongly advised to stay at home and not to gather with anyone outside their household from Dec. 14-Jan. 11 to reduce the dangerous surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
  • Universal mask mandate: Delawareans and visitors must wear masks anytime they are indoors with anyone outside of their household.

“These additional restrictions are intended to protect Delaware’s hospital capacity and protect lives this winter,” said Carney. “Health care workers are on the job around the clock, caring for the sick. We all need to follow their lead and do our part to protect others. Don’t gather with anyone outside of your household. Any interaction is riskier when community spread is at current levels. Wear a mask whenever you’re around someone outside your household – even if they’re family or friends. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. COVID-19 can cause serious illness and worse, especially for our most vulnerable friends, family members, and neighbors. Please take this seriously.”

Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) also on Thursday announced a zero-tolerance enforcement policy for businesses during the Stay-at-Home advisory. A first violation of COVID-19 restrictions will result in an immediate civil fine. A second violation will result in closure, until the establishment submits a reopening plan approved by DPH.

Restaurants will remain at 30 percent capacity, but must have signs prominently displayed on the table stating that parties must be from the same household. Restaurants also must share messaging on masking compliance. Carney’s fourth revision caps mall food courts at 20 percent of stated fire capacity, or 100 people, whichever is smaller.