Delawareans will resume activities such as swimming and sunbathing on Delaware State Park beaches for Memorial Day weekend, with existing restrictions on beaches being lifted by Gov. John Carney effective Friday, May 22, at 5 p.m. Out-of-state visitors who have maintained a 14-day quarantine since entering the state are also allowed to resume activity on Delaware beaches at that time.
Since March, beach activities had been limited to exercising, dog-walking and restricted surf-fishing as part of precautions against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), with municipalities given permission to enforce stricter limits on their beaches and local municipalities having largely shut down their beaches entirely as a result.
Adequate social distancing on the beaches remain a concern, officials said on Tuesday, and will be closely monitored as the restrictions are modified.
To carry out the phased reopening of Delaware beaches, the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control announced the following for state parks:
• Current restrictions on beach activity will be lifted starting 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22. Sunbathing, swimming, picnicking, surfing, kayaking, walk-on surf-fishing and other activities will be allowed to resume for Delawareans and for those from out-of-state who have quarantined for 14 days.
• At least a 6-foot distance will be required on beaches among those from different households, and groups of visitors from the same household may be no larger than 10. Masks or face coverings are encouraged to be worn on beaches.
• Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks will have capacity limits —between 50 percent and 70 percent of parking spaces — that will be enforced at entrances and with closure of parking spaces.
• Visitors must bring face coverings, such as masks or bandanas, with them when entering state parks. Within state parks, face coverings must be worn in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in bathhouses, park offices, concession buildings, boat docks, and trails and paths where others are present.
• Beach-area bathrooms and bathhouses will open May 22. Most bathrooms in other state parks around the state will also open, but some will remain closed due to distancing/cleaning considerations.
• Cleaning services will be increased to multiple times per day at all open bathrooms and bathhouses.
• For surf-fishing, the emergency limit on number of people per vehicle will be removed and now only one person will need to be actively fishing. But 20-foot distancing between vehicles will be required, and drive-on beaches may be closed by officers to additional vehicles when the carrying capacity to implement social distancing is not possible.
• State Park offices will open Thursday, May 21.
• Visitors are being encouraged to purchase annual passes to avoid anticipated delays for daily entrance payments. Annual passes are available online at destateparks.com and resume availability at park offices starting Thursday, May 21.
• For those without annual passes or permits, daily park entrance fees will only be collected via the automated credit card machines or self-registration envelopes provided at park entrances.
• Camping and pavilion reservations at all state parks have been canceled through May 31. Full refunds will be issued, and no further action is required by the customer. Should the governor’s state-of-emergency closure of camping be extended beyond June 1, further cancelations will occur at that time.
State park daily entrance fees for vehicles registered in Delaware are $4 at inland parks and $5 at ocean parks. Fees for out-of-state vehicles, they are $8 at inland parks and $10 at ocean parks. Annual park entrance passes cost $35 for Delawareans or $70 for out-of-state visitors, with discounted rates for military service members and for those on state or federal assistance, including those on unemployment. For information on pass and permit fees, go to destateparks.com/Know/passestagsfees.