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WILMINGTON – In a Wednesday evening update to his state of emergency order, Gov. John Carney closed all movie theaters, gyms, spas, bowling alleys, sports facilities and concert venues in the state, effective Thursday morning.
It represents the latest batch of businesses to be closed after he announced a ban on dine-in eating at restaurants and gambling at casinos on Monday. Many of the businesses that are covered under the Wednesday order that goes into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday had already voluntarily closed – notably only two of the state’s nine movie theaters remained open as of Wednesday.
Most, if not all, of the state’s concert venues had also already closed after performers canceled gigs. Gyms and spas were the business types that were perhaps most operational, but several large gym chains like Planet Fitness, Edge Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness and the YMCA of Delaware had already closed.
Still unaffected by the latest order, however, are shopping malls. Two of Delaware’s three malls – the Christiana Mall, and the Concord Mall – continue to operate under reduced hours as of Wednesday night. The Dover Mall became the state’s first to voluntarily close Wednesday night, saying the temporary closure will run until March 29.
“After extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials and in recognition of the need to address the spread of COVID-19, we will be temporarily closed,” the mall’s owner, Simon Property Group, wrote in a statement on its website.
Many of the malls’ tenants have closed, however, including anchor stores like Macy’s, Boscov’s and JC Penney as well as high-profile brands like Apple, H&M, Foot Locker and Victoria’s Secret.
Carney’s order emphasizes that owners and operators of businesses open to the public try to limit crowds to 50 people or less in an area while also providing hand sanitizer.
In support of embattled restaurants and brewpubs in the state, Carney is also allowing alcohol sales with takeout or drive-thru services to businesses with an on-premise alcohol license. Any sales of alcohol must constitute 40% or less of a transaction’s sale and be securely closed.
Finally, in an effort to bolster the use of telemedicine in addressing health needs during the coronavirus pandemic, Carney’s order suspends statutory regulations about interstate teleconferencing with a doctor. A patient does not have to be in the state either, as long as they are a Delaware resident.
By Jacob Owens