Status of Delaware’s Return-to-Work Reopening Plan

Last month, Delaware Governor John Carney announced that the state would move to Phase 2 of its reopening plan.  Since entering Phase 2, Delaware has announced there would be a delay in progressing to Phase 3, but moved to an expanded rolling Phase 2 reopening.  Delaware also paused certain aspects of Phase 2 and has required partial re-closure in specified counties, such as additional closures for certain Delaware beach operations.  Additionally, Delaware has issued both general and industry-specific reopening guidance. 

Below is an overview of certain requirements for Delaware businesses as they resume operations.

Guidance for All Delaware Employers Across All Industries

Employers should adhere to the below requirements that apply across all businesses and industries.

  • Provide Employees Face Masks and Hand SanitizerAll employers must provide face masks and hand sanitizer for employees at their expense.
    • Employers must provide employees with a face covering to wear while working in areas open to the general public and areas within six feet of other staff. 
    • Employees also are strongly encouraged to use personal face coverings until their employer provides a face covering.
    • Additionally, all individuals must wear a face covering in specified public places, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health or where the individual is under two years of age.
    • A business must decline entry to an individual refusing to wear a face covering, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business policy should provide alternative methods of pickup and delivery of such goods, or the individual has a medical condition preventing them from using a mask.
  • Temperature Screening
    • Temperature screening is required for high-risk businesses and recommended for all others. (See Division of Public Health Essential Services Screening Policy)
    • Each employee must be asked about and report body temperature at or above 99.5F.
    • If a facility has the capability to perform active temperature monitoring, it may do so.
  • Other Health Screening
    • Employers operating high-risk businesses must screen each incoming employee with a basic questionnaire. This is recommended for all other businesses. (See Division of Public Health Essential Services Screening Policy)
    • NOTE: Certain Delaware localities have provisions concerning employee health screenings.  Please check with your attorney for additional information about the requirements in your particular jurisdiction.
  • Post Required Signs Employers must post signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, hand hygiene, and how to properly wear a cloth face covering.
  • Gatherings Gatherings in parks and recreation facilities or in other locations without a fire code occupancy limit are limited to 250 people.  Hosts of indoor gatherings must calculate useable capacity at 30 square feet per person, up to a maximum of 250 people.
    • Attendees must social distance from those not part of their household.
    • For gatherings of more than 250 people, approval is needed by the Division of Small Business.

Industry-Specific Guidance

In addition to the above guidance, Delaware has provided industry-specific guidance that businesses must adhere to when reopening, including:

Gyms, Fitness Establishments

  • Exercise facilities currently may operate at 30% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff).
  • Restrictions on class size (no more than 10 per class) apply.
  • Cleaning/disinfecting of shared equipment also is required.

Personal Care Services

  • Personal care services (hair care, tanning, tattoo, massage therapy services, nail care, brow care, spas, waxing services and similar operations) are to remain operating at 30% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff).
  • Services also must schedule services at least 15 minutes apart for proper cleaning.

Retail Establishments

  • Retail establishments can operate at 60% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff).
  • Face coverings are required.
  • Social distancing should be maintained.
  • Malls may also operate at 60% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff), with food and drink and personal care services following industry-specific guidelines.

Arts and Culture

  • Museums, galleries, and historical attractions may operate at 60% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff) for indoor venues.
  • Guided tours and shuttle services are permitted with social distancing.
  • Arts and music instruction are permitted with social distancing.
  • Equipment must be properly sanitized.
  • Seated performance venues are also limited to operate at 60% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff) for indoor venues.
  • Face coverings may be removed during performances.

Restaurants and Bars

  • Restaurants and bars can operate at 60% of fire occupancy requirements.
  • Seating with different households at a table is allowed as long as they are socially distanced.
  • Bar service and seating are allowed as long as social distancing is maintained between those not of the same household (unless prohibited by locality restrictions).
  • Tables must be set eight feet apart so that guests are six feet apart.
  • For restaurants that provide table service: Customers must have a reservation unless the establishment has a system for ensuring that customers without a reservation do not gather while waiting to be seated.
  • Self-service/buffets are prohibited.
  • NOTE: Certain Delaware localities have different/more restrictive provisions. 
    • Bar Closures at Delaware Beaches - Effective July 3, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. ET, additional restrictions apply to taprooms and bar service in restaurants in the towns of Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Long Neck, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick Island, West Fenwick Island, Ocean View, and Millville, including:
      • No bar seating;
      • Food may only be ordered at tables;
      • Any common areas (including dance floors, arcade/bar game areas, pool tables, and similar spaces) where people would typically stand or engage in other activities must be off-limits if not otherwise occupied by tables with seated patrons.
    • Those additional restrictions to protect the beach communities can be found at:
    • Please check with your attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.

Hotels and Commercial Lodging

  • The total number of guests in common areas (lobby, food and drink services, gyms, etc.) cannot exceed 60% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff).
  • Cleaning of rooms/common area must be performed using an EPA-approved disinfectant.
  • Food and drink and exercise facilities must industry-specific guidelines.


  • Open houses allowed if following indoor gathering limitations.
  • Social distancing should be maintained.
  • Proper disinfection of property is required.

Employers should consult counsel to ensure they implement specific safety guidelines in compliance with local, state, and federal laws. For a full list of industries and further industry-specific guidance, please consult Delaware’s up-to-date Phase 2 Guidelines.  Littler will continue to update developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.