Delaware Modifies Its State of Emergency Declaration to Require that Businesses Provide Face Coverings and Sanitizer for Employees and Enforce Face-Covering Requirements Against Customers
Delaware Governor John Carney recently issued a thirteenth modification to Delaware’s State of Emergency Declaration, which brings Delaware in line with other states (mentioned here and here) that have begun to implement face-covering requirements to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and hasten the country’s “reopening.” The modification requires most members of the public to immediately start wearing face coverings in certain locations and businesses to enforce this requirement against their customers, with few exceptions. The modification, as of May 1, 2020 at 8:00 A.M., will also require businesses to make certain employees wear face coverings, which they must provide at their own expense.
Individuals in Delaware who are under two years-old, or unable to wear face coverings for medical reasons, must wear them when engaging in certain activities. In particular, face coverings must be worn when an individual is:
- a rider on public transportation, or a paratransit vehicle, taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle;
- a customer of any business, both inside and when waiting in line outside;
- obtaining services at any healthcare provider unless otherwise directed by same;
- in an outdoor public area, if maintaining social distancing of six (6) feet is impracticable;
- or in any public area and is feeling sick, coughing, or sneezing.
Businesses must enforce this requirement. They cannot, however, ask individuals who claim they are unable to wear face coverings for medical reasons to produce documentation that verifies their medical conditions. If a customer fails to wear a face covering for non-medical reasons, and if such covering cannot be provided to the customer by the business at the point of entry, then the business may not allow the customer inside. Where, however, the business provides medication, medical supplies, or food, it must provide an alternative means for access to same. For example, an employee could bring medication to an un-masked customer in the parking lot.
In addition to the face-covering requirements, businesses must post notices of same at their entry points. They also must post notices at visible locations inside their premises.
Starting no later than May 1, 2020 at 8:00 A.M., businesses will also be required to provide employees with face coverings to wear while working in areas open to the general public, and areas in which they are likely to come within six (6) feet of other staff. By that date, restaurants in particular, must require all employees who interact with customers, including delivery personnel, to wear face coverings while working. Finally, all businesses will be required to provide both face coverings and hand sanitizer to their employees at their expense.
Businesses that fail to adhere to Delaware’s State of Emergency Declaration or any modification thereto commits a criminal offense. The state has authorized its and local law enforcement agencies to enforce its provisions. Businesses who have questions about the face covering requirements are encouraged to contact counsel to ensure they are in compliance with the State of Emergency Declaration.