Face coverings required in public

Gov. John Carney has issued an order requiring all Delawareans age 13 or older to wear protective face coverings when in public, beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28. Children 2 or younger should not wear a face covering. It is optional for children ages 3 to 12.

Gov. John Carney on Saturday, April 25, issued the 13th modification to his State of Emergency declaration, requiring Delawareans to wear face coverings in public settings, including in grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and doctor’s offices, and on public transportation.

Carney’s order does not require children aged 12 or younger to wear a face covering. Any child 2-years-old or younger must not wear a face covering, due to the risk of suffocation.

The modified order is effective as of 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28.

Resources about face coverings

Face covering guidelines

“Now is not the time for Delawareans to get complacent,” said Carney on Saturday. “We face a very serious situation, with additional cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations statewide. All of our actions are guided by science and intended to save lives. Wearing a face covering in public settings is important to prevent transmission of this disease.

“But wearing a face covering is not permission to go out in public more often,” he emphasized. “Delawareans should stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out for essential work or essential items. Don’t go out in public unnecessarily. You will only increase your risk — and the risk to your family, friends, and neighbors.”

Under Carney’s modified order, businesses must also take certain steps to keep their employees and customers safe.

By 8 a.m. on Friday, May 1, businesses must:

  • Require employees to wear a face covering while working in areas open to the public and in areas where coming within 6 feet of other staff is likely.
  • Provide, at the business’ expense, face coverings and hand sanitizer for their employees.
  • Deny entry to individuals who do not have a face covering — or if one is not available for them.
  • If any business denying entry is providing medication, medical supplies or food, the business must provide alternate methods of pickup or delivery.
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Delawareans are being urged to use cloth face coverings and reserve medical-grade masks for use by healthcare workers and first-responders. Medical-grade masks include N95, KN95, surgical or other masks that would be appropriate for a healthcare setting.

Delawareans wearing a face covering should practice strict hand-washing before and after touching the face covering, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH). Face coverings are not a replacement for washing hands, practicing physical distancing and staying home, they emphasized. Delawareans who are sick should wear a face covering over their nose and mouth if they must be around other people — even while at home.

“Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for existing guidance around hand-washing and social distancing,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. “Delawareans should stay at home whenever possible, only leaving for essential activities. Wash your hands. Keep 6-10 feet between yourself and others.”

Carney’s State of Emergency has the full force and effect of law. The stay-at-home order, and a mandatory quarantine for out-of-state travelers, remain in place. Violations of the emergency order, or any of its modifications, constitute a criminal offense.

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Delawareans with questions about COVID-19, related to medical or social service needs, should call 211; or 711 for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. Questions may also be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov. DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, visit: de.gov/coronavirus.