Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Gov. John Carney on Sunday issued the fourth and fifth modifications to his State of Emergency declaration, ordering Delawareans to stay at home whenever possible and closing all non-essential businesses in Delaware to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

The orders go into effect at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24. They will remain in effect until May 15 or until the public health threat is eliminated, officials said.

Among the essential businesses permitted to stay open are food production and agriculture businesses; grocery, specialty food and liquor stores; building materials and lawn/garden supply stores; healthcare facilities; restaurants, for delivery and carry-out only; gas stations; construction; manufacturing industries; banks, and financial, tax and accounting businesses; waste collection; and automotive and appliance repair businesses.

Most retail stores are to be closed, as well as performing arts, museum and amusement businesses. Real estate offices are to be closed, or employees working from home, except to complete final stages of sales begun before the state of emergency was issued or to conduct individual showings. Open-house events are not permitted.

For a full list of which businesses are considered essential and allowed to remain open as of Tuesday, and those deemed non-essential and ordered closed, visit https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/177/2020/03/Delaware-list-of-essential-and-nonessential-businesses-March-22-2020.pdf.

Answers to frequently-asked questions are online at https://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2020/03/FAQ-on-Non-essential-Business-Closure-State-of-Delaware-03222020.pdf.

“This was not an easy decision, but it’s the right decision to protect the safety of Delawareans and Delaware families,” said Carney. “If you have any questions about whether you should be staying home or going out, stay home. Go to work, and go straight back home. If you don’t need food or other essential items, stay home.

“We’re acting with urgency to prevent a spike in coronavirus cases that could overwhelm our hospital system,” said Carney. “Delawareans cannot go out in public unnecessarily. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently. Essential businesses that remain open must provide easy access to hand-washing stations or sanitizer, enforce social distancing, and provide flexible sick-leave policies for their employees. That will reduce our risk and help keep all Delawareans healthy. We’ll get through this, but we all need to pitch in and take this threat seriously.”

Delaware employers with questions about how they may be impacted can email covid19faq@delaware.gov, or call (302) 577-8477 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Emails are encouraged due to potentially high call volume.

Early next week, Carney and Delaware public schools will announce next steps on school closures, officials said.

Leaving one’s home is allowed under Carney’s order for essential activities. Delawareans may leave their homes to get groceries, pick up a prescription, see a doctor and engage in other activities essential to their health, and the health and wellbeing of their family members, including pets. Delawareans may also engage in outdoor activity, but must adhere to social-distancing guidelines. Additional details are available in the text of Carney’s order, available online at https://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2020/03/Fifth-Modification-to-State-of-Emergency-03222020.pdf.

Sunday’s order requires essential Delaware businesses to implement flexible and non-punitive sick-leave policies for their employees, in accordance with guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH).

Employers must follow social-distancing policies, protect high-risk workers, provide hand-washing or sanitizer stations, and follow all health guidelines for internal cleaning. Visitors are not allowed at essential Delaware businesses under Sunday’s order, unless they are providing an essential service.

Government agencies are being urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for Delawareans experiencing homelessness, in accordance with CDC guidance. Homeless individuals are otherwise not subject to the shelter-in-place order.

Delawareans whose homes are unsafe — such as victims of domestic violence — are being urged to seek a safe alternative residence.

Those at high risk of infection and illness from COVID-19 and Delawareans who are sick are being urged to stay in their homes except as necessary to seek medical care.

State of Delaware offices will remain open, but state employees should telecommute wherever possible, in accordance with guidelines from the Delaware Department of Human Resources.

As of March 22, there have been 56 total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Delaware since March 11. Of the Delawareans diagnosed with COVID-19, 39 are from New Castle County, five are from Kent County and 12 are from Sussex County.

Delawareans with general questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899, or 711 for individuals who are hearing-impaired, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Questions can 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, go to de.gov/coronavirus.