As we head into May and what is normally the start of the busy summer season at the Delaware and Maryland beaches, we instead find ourselves in unchartered waters here in the coastal region.
Tourism is undoubtedly the top economic driver at the beaches, but many businesses remain closed today by order of governors John Carney in Delaware and Larry Hogan in Maryland.
As there is still a great deal of uncertainty and confusion regarding what is and what isn’t allowed during this time, as well as questions regarding when things will begin getting back to normal, we’re transitioning our regular “Weekender Blog” for now into a weekly coronavirus update.
Each week during the remainder of this health crisis, we’ll be providing you with updates from both Delaware and Maryland. This will include restrictions that are still in place, ones that have been lifted or eased, cancellations and as many updates as we can give you.
We’ll also try to give you some good news before we’re done, a few “feel good stories” from throughout the region during this trying time.
Okay, let’s get things started by looking at where things currently stand in both Delaware and Maryland’s coastal regions:
Current Restrictions in Delaware
Delaware Gov. John Carney declared a State of Emergency on March 13 and has issued 13 updates on his initial declaration in the more than six weeks since. The latest one requires everybody in the state to wear face masks in public, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Regarding southern Delaware specifically, Sussex County has seen the largest increase in the number of cases over the last couple of weeks and is now considered a “hot spot” for the virus. As of Wednesday, April 29, there are now more than 2,100 cases in Sussex County, several hundred more than in the much more populated New Castle County.
Testing and outreach will be stepped up at many areas in Sussex County, in partnership with several organizations and health care facilities.
Recent cases in Sussex County are largely centered in the Georgetown area, but there’s no area of the county that is completely free of the virus and all residents should remain on alert.
Current restrictions in the state of Delaware include:
- Shelter in Pace currently in effect until May 15 – only essential work or activities allowed
- Out of state travelers required to self-quarantine for 14 days
- Short term rentals are banned
- Non essential businesses remain closed
- The wearing of face masks is required until further notice
- Beaches and boardwalks remain closed
For more information on restrictions and mandates in Delaware, the state has set up a specific coronavirus website. Visit www.coronavirus.delaware.gov for more information.
Current Restrictions in Maryland
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a “roadmap to recovery” last week that he hopes will get his state back up and running in the next few weeks. This will not, however, mean a return to the way things were before the outbreak of the virus.
Worcester County, i.e. Ocean City, has not suffered a large scale outbreak like other areas of the state have, nor are its cases anywhere near those of neighboring counties in Delaware.
As of Wednesday, April 29, there are only 54 confirmed cases in Worcester County, though neighboring Wicomico County has reported nearly 350. Current “shelter in place” restrictions remain in effect in Maryland, though the governor’s three stage plan to reopen parts of the the economy is currently being worked out.
In consideration of this plan, Ocean City has developed similar guidelines. As this is the main coastal region of the state, we’ll go over these specifically, but you can read Gov. Hogan’s full plan by visiting www.coronavirus.maryland.gov.
Ocean City Manager Doug Miller announced the following guidelines on Monday, April 27, for what he hopes will be a salvageable 2020 summer season in the resort:
- Stage One. This would allow small shops and businesses to reopen, as well as outdoor activities like fishing, golf and boating being allowed. The target date for this is late May or early June.
- Stage Two. This would allow some social gatherings. Indoor gyms can also reopen, as well as churches, restaurants and bars. Target date is late June or early July.
- Stage Three. This phase is not expected in 2020, as city officials stress a vaccine or treatment will first need to be found. This stage would include large social gatherings, high capacity bars and restaurants opening and the return of entertainment venues.
For the current time, Maryland remains under a “shelter in place” mandate that doesn’t have a specific end date. So essential businesses remain closed and residents are asked to stay in their homes except for essential work or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy.
As you might expect, several events and other gatherings have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the more recent ones that have been announced in the last few days:
- Delaware schools will remain closed until the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year
- All Rehoboth Beach Bandstand events through the July 4 holiday, including the July 3 fireworks show, have been canceled
- Delaware State Fair grandstand events canceled (fair still remains scheduled for July 23-August 1 at this point)
- Ocean City Air Show canceled for June 13-14, hopes to be rescheduled for a later date in 2020
- 2020 Horseshoe Crab Festival (May 23) in Milton canceled
- All Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce spring events canceled
- British Motorcar Show (May 2) in Lewes canceled
- NASCAR Weekend at Dover Downs (May 1-3) canceled, hopes to be rescheduled for later in the year
- Pooches in the Park (May 16) in Lewes canceled
Real Estate Services
If you missed the blog we posted last week regarding essential real estate services, here are a few of the things that are and are not allowed in our specific industry:
- No Open Houses. Traditional open houses are not currently permitted, but virtual open houses are. Visit us at www.theoldfathergroup.com and check out virtual tours of many of our coastal properties.
- Offices are Closed. Oldfather Group offices in Rehoboth Beach, Lewes and Bethany Beach are all closed for the time being. But you can reach us either online or via phone at 302-260-2000.
- Virtual Showings. If there’s a home you’d like to see, give us a ring and we’ll have an agent do a real-time virtual tour with you. It’s the next best thing to actually being there.
- Electronic Signatures. We used this technology prior to the health crisis almost exclusively and we certainly urge more of this right now. With current technology, there’s really no reason to have to put pen to paper during this difficult time.
- Listings Continue. If you have a home you’re considering selling, right now is a great time as inventory continues to tighten in the coastal region. So contact us and let’s get it done.
Some Good News
We could all use some good news right now, and there’s actually quite a bit of it at the Delaware and Maryland beaches.
Our area is known for coming together during tough times. This is obviously much more difficult since we can’t physically be near each other at the moment, but there’s still some nice, feel good stories to tell you about.
Here are a few to click on and enjoy:
More Updates Scheduled
Check back on www.thecoastalcompass.com each week for more updates as we continue working our way through the current health crisis here in the coastal region.
And if we can help in any way during this time, with your real estate questions and any other inquiries, please give us a ring at 302-260-2000.
Stay safe everyone!