New restrictions in place for Delaware beach bars ahead of Fourth of July weekend after COVID-19 cases jump

New restrictions have been put in place for Delaware beach bars ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend after a jump in COVID-19 cases. Governor John Carney announced the move on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the modification to Delaware’s State of Emergency, “Taprooms, brewpubs and restaurants may not permit patrons to sit or stand at a bar, but may open the bar to prepare drinks to be brought to diners seated at tables.” READ THE FULL DETAILS OF THE MODIFICATION

Health officials in Delaware say the spike is most evident among younger people.

On Tuesday evening, the Rehoboth Beach commissioners unanimously voted in favor of requiring face coverings in the city during a special meeting. 

"A second modification to the City’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency and Order includes that all persons within the City of Rehoboth Beach shall wear facial coverings in all public spaces. This includes all public streets, public sidewalks, public parks, the Boardwalk, the beach, and all commercial establishments. Face coverings are not required while actively bathing in ocean water," according to a news release.

The requirement for face coverings goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

READ MORE: "There will be some changes": Del. officials looking closely at bars after case jump at beaches

Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of Delaware's Division on Public Health, appeared on Good Day Philadelphia Tuesday morning to discuss an increase in cases at beach towns like Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach.

Rattay says the jump in cases originally started in groups like high school seniors who headed to the beaches for senior weeks. Since then, she says cases have begun impacting younger adults working in the beach area, as well as some of their older residents.

A single testing event last week turned up over 100 positive cases, which made up for about 10 percent of those tested.

Another testing event in the Dewey Beach area resulted in about a 15 percent positivity rate in restaurant employees alone.

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Delaware resumed indoor dining early in June, an activity health experts say comes with an increased risk for exposure due to the inability to wear a mask of face covering.

"There definitely is an increased risk with indoor dining and with people going into bars. Of course, the more crowded the setting the higher risk. Being indoors is certainly a risk and we are looking very closely at enhancing our mitigation strategies today," Rattay said Tuesday.

READ MORE: Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and the Outer Banks beaches: what’s open and what’s not

During her appearance on Philadelphia television, Rattay added that the new cases would result in some changes.

Rattay noted that non-compliance with social distancing guidelines and face mask requirements in places like bars are contributing to the spread.

Testing is highly encouraged for those living in the beach area with people who are not part of their family and for people who attended parties or ate at a restaurant without a face covering. People working in the restaurant, hotel or retail industry who have frequent contact with other people are also urged to be tested for the virus.