Gov Carney Closes Non-essential Businesses

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Governor 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. A  full list of essential and non-essential businesses, as defined by Sunday’s order can be found here. 

The orders go into effect at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. They will remain in effect until May 15 or until the public health threat is eliminated.

“This was not an easy decision, but it’s the right decision to protect the safety of Delawareans and Delaware families,” said Governor 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.

Leaving your home is allowed under Governor 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 Governor Carney’s order.

“We’re acting with urgency to prevent a spike in coronavirus cases that could overwhelm our hospital system,” said Governor 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.”

Under the Governor’s modified State of Emergency Delaware restaurants, taverns and bars are still permitted to be open for take-out and delivery services. The Governor announced on Monday, March 16 the Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP) to provide financial relief for restaurants, bars, and other hospitality industry businesses. The no-interest loans are capped at $10,000 per business per month. The money can cover rent, utilities and other unavoidable bills but cannot be used for personnel costs. The loans have a 10-year term with payments deferred for nine months. The Division of Small Business will administer the program using existing state funds and is aiming to have an application available later this week. Businesses can find out if they are eligible by visiting business.delaware.gov/coronavirus.

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, Governor Carney and Delaware public schools will announce next steps on school closures.

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 and 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 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 urged to and seek a safe, alternative residence.

Those at high risk of infection and illness from COVID-19 and Delawareans who are sick are urged to stay in their home 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 23, there have been 87 total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Delaware since March 11. Of the Delawareans diagnosed with COVID-19, 58 are from New Castle County, nine are from Kent County, and 20 are from Sussex County.

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