Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Delaware, US, extend COVID-19-related state of emergency and stay-at-home order through May 31. Some restrictions eased.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Dover, Delaware
  • Wilmington, Delaware

This alert began 14 May 2020 23:27 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Delaware (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Delaware Governor John Carney has extended his state's existing state of emergency and stay-at-home order through at least May 31 as part of its response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the directive, most nonessential businesses remain closed. Moreover, residents may only leave their homes to obtain basic goods, attend to a medical issue, care for a person in need, or travel to/from work at an essential business or service. Residents may also engage in outdoor recreational activities, provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines. Gatherings of 10 people or more remain banned. However, the administration in Dover currently anticipates launching Phase 1 of Delaware's COVID-19 recovery plan on or about June 1.

Nevertheless, state officials have already begun very gradually easing some of the COVID-related restrictions that have been in place. Certain retail businesses, such as clothing, sporting goods, office supplies, books, music, and department stores, were allowed to reopen in early May, albeit only to offer pickup services for customers. Some establishments must operate on an appointment basis only. Haircare businesses may offer in-store services, but only for employees of essential businesses and limited to two appointments at a time. Workers and customers must wear protective face masks at all times. Farmers' markets, ice cream shops, beaches, and community pools will be allowed to reopen starting the third week of May. Other nonessential businesses must remain closed through at least May 31, unless able to operate with employees working from home.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and fuel stations, as well as companies and nonprofits dedicated to food, security, transport, shelter, energy, and critical manufacturing, are considered essential businesses and services and may remain open.

Authorities have also extended through May 31 the requirement for all travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state. Lodging businesses, including hotels and short-term accommodations at residential properties, are closed to leisure guests until at least May 31. Lodging businesses may only serve persons working in essential services, victims of domestic violence, and individuals displaced from their homes. Schools are closed for in-person lessons through the end of the academic year. All residents must wear face coverings in public places.

Significant transport and business disruptions remain likely. Authorities will keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing the measures. Officials could amend the orders on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all non-essential travel in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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