Governor Carney Signs Universal Indoor Mask Mandate

Public mask mandate takes effect at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday

School mask requirement also extended

Additional members of the Delaware National Guard deployed to assist with non-clinical operations inside Delaware hospitals

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Monday signed a revision to the State of Emergency declaration, requiring Delawareans to wear masks in indoor public settings, including convenience stores, grocery stores, gyms, restaurants, bars, hair salons, malls, and casinos.

The mask requirement takes effect at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 11. Also on Monday, Governor Carney ​announced plans to extend the school and child care facilities mask requirements, and deployed additional members of the Delaware National Guard to assist with non-clinical operations inside Delaware hospitals.  

Click here to read Monday’s revision to the State of Emergency.

Click here to read the full State of Emergency declaration.

“Our hospital systems are facing a crisis-level situation with record numbers of Delawareans seeking emergency care. We need all Delawareans in the fight as we face this winter surge of COVID-19 to make sure our hospitals are not overrun,” said Governor Carney. “I know we’re all exhausted by this pandemic. But at the level of hospitalizations we’re seeing, Delawareans who need emergency care might not be able to get it. That’s just a fact. It’s time for everyone to pitch in and do what works. Wear your mask indoors. Avoid gatherings or expect to get and spread COVID. Get your vaccine and, if eligible, get boosted. That’s how we’ll get through this surge without endangering more lives.” 

Governor Carney on Monday ​announced that the mask requirements in K-12 public and private schools and child care facilities, which had been set to expire in early February, will be extended. The extension will ensure that Delaware students can attend school in-person without consistent disruptions. 

Monday’s revision to the State of Emergency also eases State regulations ​to allow and incentivize recently-retired educators to return to the classroom as substitute teachers in an effort to keep children in school.  

Both the public and school mask requirements apply to anyone kindergarten age and older. Children aged 2-5 are strongly encouraged to wear masks in public indoor settings, including schools and child care facilities. Children under 2-years-old should not wear masks due to the risk of suffocation.  

Masks are not required outdoors or while eating or drinking in restaurants and bars, but otherwise should be worn. Churches and other houses of worship are exempted from the mask requirement.  

Businesses responsible for indoor settings open to the public are encouraged to provide disposable masks to customers who don’t have them – and to post signage about the indoor mask requirement. 

Click here for a downloadable sign for businesses. Additional signs will be available here.

Also on Monday, Governor Carney deployed 70 additional members of the Delaware National Guard to assist with non-clinical operations inside Delaware hospitals statewide, beginning Tuesday.  

In total, more than 300 members of the Delaware National Guard are assisting with COVID-19 response efforts – including support at vaccination and testing locations, help with PPE distribution, and hospital assistance. Roughly 110 members of the Guard – separate from the 70 members deployed on Monday – are training to serve as certified nursing assistants in health care settings statewide to take pressure off hospital systems. 

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Governor Carney, DOE, DHSS Formally Extend School Mask Requirement

As announced last month, the mask requirement will be extended until February 8

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney, the Delaware Department of Education (DOE), and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) on Monday formally issued regulations that will extend the emergency masking requirement in public and private K-12 schools until February 8. ​

The extension was previously announced by Governor Carney, DHSS, and DOE last month. The regulations are being formally issued this week.

Click here to read the DHSS regulation.

Click here to read the DOE regulations.

“Delaware children from kindergarten through high school are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, which should go a long way in protecting the health of students, educators, and school communities statewide,” said Governor Carney. “But that’s only possible if Delawareans get the vaccine. We are seeing a concerning increase in cases and hospitalizations statewide as the weather gets colder. Improving our vaccination rates among children and adults is how we’ll move past this pandemic. These vaccines are free, safe, and extremely protective against serious illness from COVID-19. Getting the shot will keep Delaware’s children protected. And it will keep them in their classrooms learning.”

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and now available to everyone ages 5 and older in Delaware. That’s really exciting,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH). “We know from the data that this vaccine does a great job protecting children from the COVID-19 virus and serious illness. Getting the COVID vaccine will also keep Delaware children in school, and prevent quarantines in the event of an exposure to the virus. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the vaccine and visit de.gov/getmyvaccine for more information.”

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Governor Carney Announces Extension of Emergency Mask Requirement in Schools

Emergency mask regulation now set to expire February 8

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney, the Delaware Department of Education (DOE), and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) on Wednesday announced that the State of Delaware will extend the emergency masking requirement in public and private K-12 schools until February 8. ​

The emergency masking regulation currently in effect is set to expire on December 10, with an option to extend the order another 60 days. The extension will be formalized later this month. Separately, DOE and DHSS regulations previously proposed in the Register of Regulations will be amended and reposted without ​the masking requirements.

“Delaware children from kindergarten through high school are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, which will go a long way in protecting the health of students, educators, and school communities statewide,” said Governor Carney. “It’s our hope that, by February, we will be able to lift the state mask requirement. Our focus over the coming weeks and months will be on increasing Delaware’s vaccination rates. That’s how we’ll finally move past this pandemic. These vaccines are free, safe, and extremely protective against the COVID-19 virus. Getting the shot will keep Delaware’s children protected, and keep them in school. I’d encourage all eligible Delawareans to get their shot.”

More than 82 percent of all Delaware adults have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 60 percent of all Delawareans are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and now available to everyone ages 5 and older in Delaware. That’s really exciting,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. “We know from the data that this vaccine does a great job protecting children from the COVID-19 virus and serious illness. Getting the COVID vaccine will also keep Delaware children in school, and prevent quarantines in the event of an exposure to the virus. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the vaccine and visit de.gov/getmyvaccine for more information.”

Click here for more information about vaccines for Delaware children ages 5-11.

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Governor Carney Announces Mask Requirement in K-12 Schools, Child Care, State Facilities

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced that everyone kindergarten-age and older in K-12 schools and child care homes and centers must wear face coverings indoors effective on Monday, August 16 – regardless of vaccination status. The requirement covers both public and private schools in Delaware. Child care centers and homes are strongly encouraged to require masks for children 2 years old to kindergarten inside their facilities to prevent spread of COVID-19. Children younger than 2 years old should not wear masks due to risk of suffocation.

The statewide mask requirement in schools, which will be formalized later this week, is consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and will help all Delaware students safely return to classrooms full-time this fall for the 2021-2022 school year. Children younger than 12 remain ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination at this time. ​

As of Monday, August 9, 73.7 percent of Delaware adults, and 71.6 percent of those 12 and older, have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit de.gov/getmyvaccine to find a free COVID-19 vaccination provider near you.

“There’s no higher priority than getting all Delaware children back in their classrooms full-time this fall,” said Governor Carney. “This consistent, statewide approach will help students, educators and staff return to school safely and without disruption. Vaccination remains the best way to finally put an end to this pandemic. These COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe, and highly effective against COVID-19 infection and serious illness. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine, consider it. Talk to your doctor and your friends who have received their shot. That’s how we’ll keep students in classrooms and keep moving forward.”

Additionally, Governor Carney announced Tuesday that state employees and visitors to Delaware state facilities must wear masks indoors, consistent with CDC guidance, starting Monday, August 16. This applies to all individuals, regardless of their vaccination status. Additional requirements around vaccination and testing for state employees and others are expected to be announced in the coming days.

Governor Carney on Tuesday also formally extended the Public Health Emergency order in place to allow the State of Delaware and medical providers to continue COVID-19 vaccination and testing programs. Under Delaware law, Public Health Emergency declarations must be renewed every 30 days.

Click here for Governor Carney’s Public Health Emergency extension.

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DNREC state parks, wildlife area visitors must bring masks starting Friday

DOVER, Del. – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced that starting Friday those aged 13 or older are now required to bring a face mask with them to enter state parks, wildlife areas and reserves, and should wear them when they cannot maintain social distancing from other visitors. Those who do not bring face masks when visiting these areas may be required to leave by officers or staff.

This decision is in accordance with Governor John Carney’s thirteenth modification to his State of Emergency declaration, which requires Delawareans to wear face coverings in public settings. Visitors to DNREC parks and areas must wear a face covering where social distancing is difficult, such as on boat ramps, narrow trails, and when they encounter anyone not in their household including other visitors and staff. Masks are required at all times at the Ommelanden shooting range.

“In order to keep our outdoor public spaces for all members of the public to enjoy, visitors to state parks, wildlife areas and reserves must heed social distancing and mask requirements,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “We need our visitors to do their part to help keep these areas safe for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Visitors are also asked to be mindful of the length and frequency of their visits, and to avoid peak times. The safest way to enjoy state parks is sparingly, as needed, and during off-peak times: before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. daily.

While most state parks, wildlife areas and reserves continue to stay open for Delawareans during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” emergency order from Governor John Carney, DNREC has a few guidelines for visitors to stay safe:

  • Bring a mask and wear it when needed. Parks and wildlife areas are becoming increasingly crowded as the weather warms so it is now required to have a mask to put on when you are near others not from your home.
  • Plan ahead. Many amenities are closed, including all public restrooms.
  • Be prepared. Bring your own soap, water and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Stay close to home. This period is not the time to travel for outdoor adventure. Out-of-state visitors must observe a 14-day quarantine before entering a park, wildlife area or reserve.
  • Keep your group small. Make sure to enjoy the outdoors with your immediate household members only. You should not attend or host any gatherings like barbeques or birthday parties.
  • Avoid close contact activities. Instead, choose outdoor recreation like fishing, hiking or bike riding.
  • Practice social distancing. Keep six feet between you and others. Warn others of your presence and give them enough space to pass on boat ramps, paths and trails. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you. Areas may be closed if it is determined based on observation of parking lots or groupings of people that lack of responsible social distancing has become an issue.
  • Leave no trace. Even during normal operations, parks are carry-in/carry-out with regards to trash. Trash you take into the park or area, including disposable gloves and masks, you must take with you. Our staff resources are limited, and we need your help collecting trash.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t visit our parks, wildlife areas or reserves if you or any member of your household is not feeling well.

Any failure to comply with the provisions contained in a Declaration of a State of Emergency or any modification to a Declaration of the State of Emergency can constitute a criminal offense.

Anyone concerned about an individual or group in any state park or wildlife area may contact DNREC’s Natural Resources Police via Tip411, DNREC’s smartphone app, or by calling the 24-hour DNREC Dispatch Center at 302-739-4580. Tip411 allows the public to easily report concerns. The app is available for free download by searching DENRP via the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store.

For the latest information on COVID-19 in Delaware, visit de.gov/coronavirus.

About DNREC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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