When Phase 2 of reopening Delaware begins on Monday, June 15, restaurants and shops will be permitted to allow up to 60 percent of occupancy, as long as distancing and face-covering requirements are observed.

At his press briefing on Tuesday, June 9, Gov. John Carney emphasized the importance of continuing to take all precautions against the virus, even though the number of cases is decreasing in Delaware.

At mid-week, more than 400 state residents had died from the virus, with more than 10,000 cases statewide. Sussex County has the highest number of cases, at more than 4,300.

“Now is not the time to let all our good work go to waste. … The new normal is different than the old normal, and that is going to be the way we protect one another,” he said.

Carney urged everyone to get tested, even those who don’t have symptoms, as people can spread the virus without being symptomatic. He said testing is continuing, with several sites available. See de.gov/coronavirus for more information.

Under Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, the number of people permitted to participate in indoor gatherings will be increased from 10 to 50, and to 250 outdoors.

Childcare will again be available for all Delaware families, although Carney has asked parents to keep children at home if they can, to be sure little ones are in smaller groups at care centers.

With Carney at the press briefing on Tuesday was Damian DeStefano, director of the Delaware Division of Small Business, who said convention centers and meeting places will also be able to reopen, as well as summer camps and summer school.

Officials are working on allowing competitive youth sports to resume, he said.

Concerning youth sports, Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, said there is concern about the virus spreading when children are playing sports, running up and down fields, exerting themselves, breathing hard and competing, even though the risk is decreased when athletes are outdoors.

Carney said parents and coaches he has talked to are eager to see youth sports start again and that, as a sports enthusiast and athlete in high school, college and his adult years, he understands.

Rattay said that while she is pleased the number of cases is decreasing, “In many ways, today is a sobering day.”

“Over 10,000 cases and over 400 deaths is something none of us has experienced before in such a short amount of time… to see this many lives impacted in such a short time,” she said.

Asked there is any indication the coronavirus was sickening Delaware residents prior to the first report in mid-March, Rattay said it could have been in the state, undetected, but it’s unlikely deaths were missed, she said.

Rattay also said summer heat does not seem to have an effect on the virus and, in fact, cases are increasing in some states that have hotter temperatures.

Asked how many phases there will be before the state is completely reopened, Carney said the White House Task Force recommended reopening in phases, with 14 days between each one.

“We took that and adapted it to Delaware’s situation, to determine when conditions were improving and we looked at the number of hospitalizations,” the governor said.

Once the third phase is completed, state officials will make further determinations, but if there is a resurgence of the virus, Carney said, the “broad tool of isolation” would probably not be repeated. Instead, there would be concentration on testing and contact-tracing.

Staff Reporter

Veteran news reporter Susan Canfora has written for many newspapers and held positions ranging from managing editor to her favorite, news reporter. She joined the Coastal Point in June 2019. She teaches college writing, tutors and professionally edits.