Beaches will be open in time for Memorial Day. 

Governor John Carney announced Thursday afternoon that beaches, pools, and ice cream shops and trucks will all be permitted to reopen--with strict social distancing restrictions.

According to Carney's office, ice cream shops and trucks will be permitted to reopen as of 5 p.m. on Friday, May 15, 2020. Beaches and community pools will be permitted to reopen as of 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22. 

“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 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.”

Following consultation with experts at the Division of Public Health and the mayors of Delaware's beach towns, Carney announced the openings while reiterating out-of-state visitors are still required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering Delaware, and short-term rentals are still banned. Non-Delawareans who have been in-state and quarantined for 14 days will be permitted beach access, the governor said. 

Delaware State Police will be stationed along routes typically used by out-of-state travelers to access Delaware's beaches. Travelers may be stopped, interrogated, and informed of the 14-day quarantine guidelines. 

Access to beaches may be limited to avoid overcrowding. Beachgoers must remain six feet apart from anyone outside of their household, and face coverings are encouraged while on the beach, and required on the boardwalk. 

Restaurants and bars remain limited to take-out and delivery service. 

To enforce social distancing, beaches at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore, and Fenwick Island state parks may limit capacity to vehicles. Surf fishing access may also be limited to avoid overcrowding, but current restrictions on the number of individuals permitted per vehicle will be lifted at 5 p.m. on May 22, and all individuals in a vehicle must be from the same household. 

"The idea is to slowly allow people to come back to the beaches, get the beach towns prepared for limiting the number on the beaches at any given time by parking restrictions. We do not like, New Jersey, have a beach tag system, so it makes it a little harder for us. This will be a real interesting exercise," the governor said Thursday on CNN.

Restrictions for beach towns and their visitors are as follows, as listed by the governor's office: 

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.

The DPH also issued guidance for the reopening of community pools: 


WDEL's Amy Cherry contributed to this report.