News and Announcements


Posted on: May 14, 2020

Governor Opens Beaches

 WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday announced that the State of Delaware will lift restrictions on Delaware beaches and community pools at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22, subject to strict social distancing requirements and other restrictions. Ice cream shops and trucks will reopen with restrictions effective 5:00 p.m. this Friday, May 15.

 Governor Carney made the announcement after consultation with public health experts at the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) and mayors of Delaware’s beach towns. Delaware’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers and ban on short term rentals will remain in effect. Non-Delawareans who have been in Delaware for at least 14 days will be permitted to use the beaches.

 Strict social distancing and hygiene requirements will accompany the reopening of Delaware’s beaches. Beachgoers must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and anyone outside their household. Face coverings must be worn on the boardwalk and are encouraged on the beach. Restaurants and bars are still limited to delivery and take-out services only.

 The full list of requirements and recommendations for beach towns and beachgoers is available below.

 Click here for DPH guidance on reopening public and community swimming pools.

 “Summer at the beach and the pool is a huge part of life for so many Delawareans. As we ease our way into a new normal, we’re trying to find ways for Delawareans to enjoy the outdoors and the company of their families,” said Governor Carney. “I want to be very clear to our friends who want to travel here from outside the state. While we hope one day soon to be able to welcome you to our beaches, that time has not yet come. We need to reopen Delaware in a controlled way that doesn’t put anyone at risk.”

 “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that during this everyone must continue to keep a six foot distance from others, and to wear face coverings when out, even when going to enjoy activities permitted under these limited re-opening conditions,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “It’s incredibly important that everyone exercise common sense and follow the restrictions so we don’t have a re-resurgence in cases of COVID-19 and are forced to tighten them again.”

 Under Thursday’s announcement, community pools in Delaware may reopen at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22, but are limited to 20 percent of regular capacity. Swim lessons or practices of swim teams are not permitted. Ice cream stores and trucks may reopen for take-out or curbside pick-up with strict social distancing measures at 5:00 p.m. this Friday, May 15. Children under 12-years-old must be accompanied by an adult.

 “With the restrictions being lifted for our beaches, pools and ice cream shops, it is critical that we all continue to act as if we already have coronavirus,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “We need to remain at least 6 feet away from non-family members, wear a face covering in public, wash our hands often, wipe down commonly used surfaces, and cough and sneeze into our face coverings or elbows. Preventing flare-ups of COVID-19 is our shared responsibility. It is the only way we will protect ourselves and our neighbors.”

 Beaches at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks may limit capacity to vehicles to enforce social distancing. Governor Carney announced Thursday that current surf fishing restrictions on the number of individuals allowed per vehicle has been lifted – if all individuals in the vehicle are from the same household.

 Surf fishing access may also be limited to enforce social distancing and avoid overcrowding.

 “Our state park beaches are always popular places for people to get fresh air, exercise and create memorable experiences, but the restrictions have been critical to keep us all safe. As we allow increased beach activities, we urge Delawareans to avoid crowds and maintain at least six feet from others on and off the sand,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “We will be using entrance and parking restrictions to manage capacity. We’re trying to provide opportunities for Delawareans to continue to enjoy our state parks, but it is not back to normal by any stretch.”

 To enforce the out-of-state quarantine as Delaware beaches reopen, Delaware State Police will station troopers at routes typically used by out-of-state travelers. Travelers will be stopped, asked a series of questions, and given information about the 14-day quarantine requirement under Governor Carney’s State of Emergency declaration. Violations of the emergency declaration, or any of its modifications, constitute a criminal offense.

 Local officials also are encouraged to limit capacity on their beaches to prevent overcrowding and potential spread of COVID-19.

 “The Delaware State Police will continue to enforce the laws of the State of Delaware, to include those associated with the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers,” said Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr., Superintendent-Delaware State Police. “Our emphasis and goal in enforcing the orders, specifically in regards to the travel restrictions, is to achieve voluntary compliance through education and awareness. The health and well-being of our Troopers, as well as the community, will remain our top priority as we continue to serve and protect, during this unprecedented event.”

 Beach towns and beachgoers will be subject to certain restrictions as Delaware beaches reopen effective 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22.

 Towns must:

  • Clean bathrooms, boardwalk railings, benches multiple times per day
  • Close arcade games on boardwalk
  • Demarcate (using tape, cones, etc.) 6 feet intervals in front of certain retail on boardwalks where lines are likely to form, entrances to the beach, or any other area where congregating or waiting in lines is likely to occur
  • Identify enforcement teams

 Towns are recommended to:

  • Implement systems to limit capacity (like timed or day passes) on the beach
  • Limit parking spaces
  • Limit access points
  • Designate Beach Ambassadors to educate beachgoers about social distancing and serve as liaisons to law enforcement
  • Station Beach Ambassadors at access points

 Regulations for beachgoers:

  • Face coverings are required on boardwalk and encouraged on the beach
  • Members of different households must remain 6 feet apart at all times
  • Individuals with underlying health conditions or who are over 65-years-old should continue to shelter in place.
  • Avoid water fountains.

 Regulations for on-premise beach vendors:

  • Food and beverage concession vendors must follow restaurant regulations and may only provide take-out or delivery service. Vendors must wear face coverings. Customers must be 6 feet apart while waiting in line.
  • The rental of items like umbrellas, chairs, mats, kayaks, etc. are allowed so long as the vendor properly disinfects between each use/rental.

 Anyone with a question about COVID-19, whether related to medical or social service needs, should call Delaware 2-1-1. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

 Health or medically-related COVID-19 questions can also be submitted by email at

 DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to




On March 21st, 2020 the Town of Bethany Beach, following the Governors 3rd Emergency Declaration  closed the beach and boardwalk to all pedestrian traffic.

In light of the shift from complete closure to limited beach access along the Delmarva coast, and today’s announcement from Rehoboth Beach that they will open their beach and boardwalk to walking and exercise, beginning Friday, May 15th, 2020, the Town of Bethany Beach will open the boardwalk and beach to pedestrian traffic Friday at 12:01 AM.

To be clear: the Governor’s order closing State beaches is still in effect, but the Town of Bethany Beach is now allowing exercising/walking on the beach and boardwalk (as allowed at municipal discretion in the Governor’s Order).  No other activity will be allowed on Bethany’s beach or boardwalk.

In addition, the Bethany Beach Town Code prohibits dog walking on its beach and boardwalk from May 15th until September 30th. That prohibition will go into effect Friday, May 15th at 12:01 AM.



Today the Bethany Beach Town Council met in a teleconference Town Council meeting to discuss a plan of action for early summer 2020.During this meeting the Town Council voted to:

Continue the closure of the Town’s beach and boardwalk to pedestrian traffic until June 1st and at that time the Town Council will reassess the beach closure.

To delay “pay to park” and parking enforcement until both the Town’s beach and boardwalk are open.

Not issue out of town shuttle permits or operate Town trolleys until restrictions are eased or lifted regarding physical distancing.

Cancel all special events until July 15. Including the 4th of July Parade and 4th of July fireworks.

The Town Council also committed to meet in late May or early June to review the conditions at that time and move to less restrictive measures, if possible, at that time.

Town Manager Talking Points 30 April 2020

I’d like to recap were we are today in the state and in Bethany Beach. And I think in doing that we will clear up some misconceptions that some have regarding the Town’s authority in the current restrictions that are in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Town of Bethany Beach is a Political Subdivision of the State of Delaware and as such is bound to follow the Emergency Orders of our Governor. To date the Governor’s Declaration of a State of Emergency, as modified, has:

Banned large gatherings

Ordered citizens to shelter in place, except for essential activities

Ordered non-essential businesses to close

Limited non-essential travel

Banned short-term rentals

Closed beaches statewide, with exception for two activities; and authorized local officials to impose stricter measures

Ordered people entering the state to self-quarantine for 14 days

And, as recently as two days ago was modified again, adding the required wearing of face coverings in public settings

These are STATE restrictions and requirements they have the force and effect of law and the Town of Bethany Beach and its citizens are obligated to comply. They are not Bethany Beach directives that the Town can rescind, change or disregard.

We have received a few phone calls and emails asking the Town to lift or ease the restrictions. We do not have the authority to do so.

In addition to the State restrictions, because of crowding on the beach and boardwalk, before the Governor’s beach closure, and many people ignoring social distancing guidelines, our Town exercised its legal authority and also banned any pedestrian traffic on both its beach and boardwalk in the interest of public health. Rehoboth Beach having had the same experience, also closed their beach and boardwalk to pedestrian traffic.

That is where we are today.

I know that many think the restrictions will be lifted on May 15th. That is not the case. The Governor’s Emergency Declaration needs to be reissued periodically according to statute and May 15th marks the expiration of the first extension of the original Order. The Governor has stated that he will issue another order on or before that date. No one at this time knows what the new order will contain and how long any restrictions in the new order will be in place.

Based on his recent statements, it appears that the Governor will leave many of the current requirements in place for the near future until CDC reopening requirements, that I will mention in a minute, are met

I should note that over the last several weeks the Mayor, Vice Mayor, and various Council members have attended an incredible number of teleconferences, electronic briefings and press conferences with state and local officials. In addition, the Governor has weekly meetings with every Mayor in the State with his most recent meeting with Delaware’s Mayors being just two days ago.

From these briefings we know the Governor is committed to having Delaware follow published CDC guidelines in reopening the state. The CDC guidelines are available on the Town’s website and I suggest that anyone who has an interest read them.

Quickly summarized, the guidelines outline 3 Phases for reopening. Each Phase describes a number of separate guidelines for individuals and employers, including protecting vulnerable populations and limits on outside activities, socializing, travel, and reopening businesses, large venues and recreation areas. Phase One is the most restrictive.

In order for Delaware to enter Phase One a number of things have to happen according to the CDC: there has to be a sustained  downturn in Covid 19 cases for 14 straight days (any increase in cases restarts the clock), there has to be a very robust testing program in place for all citizens, a contact tracing program needs to be in place and medical care in the area needs to be able to provide crisis level care to all patients who require it.

All of this is just what is required to enter the most restrictive phase of the reopening process. Just a few days ago the Governor advised that he felt Delaware was a month away from having the necessary testing and contact tracing needed to even consider Phase One.

So, based on the most recent information we have, Delaware will not be able to begin the CDC protocols to reopen for weeks and beginning that phase is also contingent on a 14 day downturn in Covid-19 cases.

Where are we in Sussex County today in regard to cases? Well, over the past 13- or 14-days Sussex County has seen a 220% increase in cases! And while Sussex County has only 22% of Delaware’s population it has almost 50% of its Covid-19 cases.

These are some of the factors that we have to consider as we try to plan what the early weeks of our summer season will be like in Bethany Beach.

We have to plan for the summer based on the restrictions and requirements in the Governor’s current emergency orders and also factor in CDC reopening guidelines. All phases of the CDC guidelines regarding opening and lifting restrictions have physical distancing requirements and we have to take that into account as we consider venues and scheduling events that attract large crowds in our community.

My first and most important recommendation will be that Staff and Council constantly review current conditions, both in state and nationwide, that are related to the Covid pandemic. Taking action to reduce restrictions as soon as it is felt doing so will not impact the health, safety and welfare of our community.

My second recommendation is that the Town’s standing order regarding beach and boardwalk closure to pedestrian traffic, remains in effect until the Governor has moved the state into the final phase of CDC guidelines or May 31st, whichever comes first. On June 1st we will reassess the closure in light of conditions at that time.

[Clarification:  This does not mean that the beach and boardwalk definitely will reopen on June 1. The Council will review the situation at that time, or earlier if the Governor moves the State into Phase 3 of the CDC Guidelines. Cliff Graviet, Town Manager, May 3, 2020.]

My third recommendation is that there be no “pay to park” or parking enforcement until the beach and boardwalk are open.

My fourth recommendation is that Bethany Beach not approve the issuance of any out of town shuttle permits, or operate Town Trolleys, until restrictions are eased regarding physical distancing and again that this restriction be reviewed June 1st.

And my last recommendation is that all special events that draw large crowds into Bethany Beach, often to stand shoulder to shoulder, be canceled until July 15. This would include the 4th of July parade and 4th of July fireworks.

Regarding the 4th of July, I can think of no circumstance that could possibly change in the coming weeks that could ever justify the Town of Bethany Beach holding an event that attracts 10 to 15 thousand people to a limited space to sit or stand shoulder to shoulder or side by side. 

Those are my recommendations.

I also am asking the Council to review these recommendations in late May and revise as needed. And if there is a change in existing conditions before then that would allow us to modify any of these, we meet as soon as possible to consider those changes. None of this is carved in stone this is a very fluid situation and long-term planning is virtually impossible.

If physical distancing requirements have not been lifted as June 1st approaches, I would like the Council to consider other possible action as our beach and boardwalk open. These are suggestions for future consideration, depending on conditions as we move into summer. I am looking for no vote or affirmation on these suggestions, I only ask that you begin to consider them for the future.

When our beach is open, and we resume pay to park, I would like to limit “pay to park” to only our downtown commercial area. The area where we have stores and restaurants. In that pay to park area I suggest we create a large number of free, 15-minute parking spaces, to facilitate takeout pickup from our restaurants to help them as they adjust to this new normal and struggle to survive. I also suggest we limit parking in this commercial area to no more than 90 or 120 minutes.

In addition, I would suggest we consider taking all other parking spaces east of Route 1 and in the 300 block west of Route 1 and make them Residential Parking Permit Only, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until physical distancing requirements are lifted completely.

And finally, for future consideration, that the Town not operate its Trolley or permit out of town shuttles until physical distancing requirements are lifted.

TOWN OF BETHANY BEACH                                                                THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2020

TOWN COUNCIL                                                                                     MEETING VIA WEBINAR

MEETING                                                                                                  1:00 P.M.


Discussion and possible vote on establishing a municipal plan of action for summer 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Governor’s emergency declarations.

For public access to the meeting:

Please access the link below to the webinar at or a few minutes prior to 1:00 PM on April 30, 2020. Upon access you will need to register to listen and comment on the meeting by providing your name, address, and Bethany Beach address (if applicable). You may comment by typing in the chat box shown on the screen during the meeting.

Join Zoom Meeting/Webinar

Meeting/Webinar ID: 838-2621-9029

Posted 04/23/2020

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