(The Center Square) – Residents of Delaware entering public settings are now required to wear masks, Gov. John Carney said.
The mandate went into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday as Carney, signed a revision to the State of Emergency declaration. The school mask requirement was also extended in the order.
“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,” Carney said in a news release. “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.”
The new requirement mandates that anyone entering convenience stores, grocery stores, gyms, restaurants, bars, hair salons, malls, and casinos wear protective masks. Masks may be removed by a speaker in the event if they can maintain six feet of distance from others.
Carney said he is also activating 70 additional members of the state’s National Guard, who will assist with non-clinical operations within hospitals. Currently, there are more than 300 soldiers assisting with COVID-19 efforts at testing locations, PPE distribution sites, and hospitals.
In addition, mask requirements for students in K-12 public and private schools, and child care facilities, has been extended. The mandate was originally set to expire in early February.
As part of the emergency extension, the state will also incentivize retired educators to return to the classroom as substitute teachers, according to the release.
The mask requirements for public schools now apply to kindergarten students and older, while children ages 2-5 are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks in public indoor settings, including schools and child care settings. As suffocation can occur, children under age 2 should not wear masks.
While masks are required at indoor facilities, they are not mandated when outdoors or drinking in restaurants and bars. Churches and other religious entities, according to the release, are exempt from the mask requirement.
Businesses are asked to provide masks and association signage to customers, according to the release.