Gov. John Carney has issued a stay-at-home order and mandated that all non-essential businesses close as the state tries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The order, which takes effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, comes as Delaware reported its 56th case of COVID-19.
“This was not an easy decision, but it’s the right decision to protect the safety of Delawareans and Delaware families,” Carney said Sunday evening. “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.”
Under the order, people 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. They can also engage in outdoor activity, as long as they abide by social distancing guidelines.
Carney also released a detailed list of businesses that must close. That list can be viewed here.
The governor’s order allows grocery stores and drug stores to remain open, as well as most manufacturing businesses, doctor’s offices, day care centers, waste management companies and other industries deemed essential. Restaurants can remain open for delivery or take-out only.
Meanwhile, businesses like department stores, real estate firms and car dealerships must close.
The restrictions will be in place until May 15 or until the public health threat is over.
Neighboring states have taken similar actions, Carney said, “and we don’t want Delaware to become a destination for residents of other states seeking a more permissive environment.”
Similar orders have been issued in New Jersey and New York. Philadelphia has announced similar restrictions. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses be shuttered.
In many cases, though, Delaware’s restrictions are more permissive than those in Pennsylvania. For example, Delaware allows liquor stores, florists and a wide range of construction and manufacturing industries to remain open, while Pennsylvania does not.
Delaware businesses that are able to remain open will face consequences if they don’t follow federal health guidelines to prevent the spread.
“We will have no choice but to shut them down, too,” Carney said.
An earlier emergency declaration from Carney prohibited public gatherings of 50 or more people, but he said not enough people were heeding those warnings. Carney on Saturday had closed the state beaches because too many people were visiting them.
“I understand that these restrictions will have real consequences for real people, but the consequences of not imposing these restrictions are way too serious,” Carney said.
Carney implored residents to follow the restrictions and stay home unless absolutely necessary. The more seriously people take the restrictions, the sooner the crisis will be over, he said.
“Most of this is on us, you and me, the people of Delaware. We all need to do our part,” Carney said. “We can do this, but we need your help.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.