The most recent requirements regarding face coverings can be found in Governor John Carney’s 27th Modification of the Declaration of a State of Emergency in Section H.
Face coverings are required in public settings and any time you are around individuals who do not live in your household.
- Individuals aged Kindergarten and up must wear a face covering while visiting a business, indoor or outdoor space open to the public, or while in attendance at any private indoor gathering or event with members of other households, irrespective of physical distance.
- A “face covering” means a cloth, paper, or disposable face covering that fully covers the nose and the mouth.
- Wearing a medical-grade mask satisfies any requirement in the State of Emergency order to wear a face covering, but all Delawareans are urged to reserve medical-grade masks for use by health care workers and first responders. A “medical-grade mask” means an N95, KN95, surgical, or other mask that would be appropriate for a health care setting.
- Face coverings with exhalation valves or vents should be avoided, per CDC guidance.
- Practice strict hand washing before and after touching the face covering.
- Face coverings are not a replacement for washing hands, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings with those outside of your household.
Requirements for Individuals
- Any child under the age of two (2) must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
- While the use of face coverings for those between the age of two (2) and pre-Kindergarten is strongly encouraged if they can do so reliably in compliance with CDC guidance on How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings, the State of Emergency order does not require that any child wear a face covering before they are in Kindergarten.
- Any child enrolled in Kindergarten and up to eighteen (18) years of age shall wear a face covering following the rules and requirements for adults contained in the COVID-19 State of Emergency and its modifications except when doing so would inhibit the individual’s health. Parents and caregivers must supervise use of face coverings by children to avoid misuse.
- Face coverings are not required when eating or drinking, or when seated at a table to eat or drink. Face coverings are required to be worn at all other times in food and drink establishments, such as when walking to and from tables. Individuals are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering at food and drink establishments while not eating or drinking, and especially when waitstaff are at the table.
- Face coverings are not required when engaged in any activity that makes wearing a face covering or face shield not feasible, such as swimming, dental appointments or personal care services where the face must be exposed.
- When individuals are speaking, reading, or singing to an audience, including through a camera in a location where any other person shares the space, face coverings or face shields must be worn or one of the following precautions must be taken:
- The speaker, reader, or singer shall face away from the audience, maintain at lest thirteen (13) feet of distance between themselves and the audience and any other person in the space;
- Stand behind a physical barrier or partition, such as a sneeze guard; or
- The speaker reader, or singer must put the face covering back on immediately after speaking, reading or singing.
- A face covering is required in offices or common spaces, such as elevators, hallways, bathrooms, and meeting rooms where another person or persons who are not members of the same household are present, irrespective of physical distance. A face covering is not required when a person is in a personal office (a single room) when others outside of that person’s household are not present.
- OUTDOORS: Face coverings are not required in an outdoor space open to the public when an individual can maintain at least six (6) feet of social distance between members of separate households, unless otherwise specified.
- INDOORS: Face coverings are required at all times while indoors at an exercise facility. Face coverings are not required at outdoor exercise facilities when engaged in vigorous physical activity.
- Individuals who have a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe or a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a face covering can request a reasonable accommodation from the business, school, or individuals responsible for indoor/outdoor spaces open to the public to enable full and equal access to services, transportation, and facilities open to the public. A requested accommodation that would endanger any third party or create any likelihood of further infection is per se unreasonable and therefore not required. A reasonable accommodation does not include simply allowing a customer inside without a face covering. Reasonable accommodations could include curbside pickup, delivery, or pick up by appointment.
Requirements for Businesses
- Provide, at no cost, disposable face coverings for customers and visitors who do not have one.
- Post required face covering signs in languages that are commonly spoken by customers and visitors. Printable signs are available here.
- Educate employees on how to safely work and communicate with people who cannot wear face coverings.
- Businesses and individuals responsible for indoor and outdoor spaces open to the public shall require employees, contractors, and volunteers to wear a face covering in compliance with the State of Emergency Modification, except as follows:
- Face coverings are not required when at or in a location where the employee, contractor or volunteer is alone and does not have a job that requires interacting with others.
- Face coverings are not required when eating and drinking, or when seated at a table to eat or drink, but individuals are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering at food and drink establishments while not eating or drinking, and especially when waitstaff are at the table.
- All food and drink establishments must also place a sign on each table asking customers to wear a face covering at food and drink establishments (a) while not eating or drinking, (b) when restaurant staff are at the table, and (c) at all other times when not seated at a table. Face coverings are required to be worn at all other times in food and drink establishments, such as when walking to and from tables. Printable signs are available here.
- Businesses and individuals responsible for indoor and outdoor spaces open to the public are required to:
- Require customers and visitors to businesses, indoor or outdoor spaces open to the public to wear face coverings.
- Provide face coverings for employees, contractors, and volunteers.
- Provide accommodations for employees, contractors, customers and visitors if such accommodations are required by state or federal disabilities, labor, or public accommodations laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Have written documentation, such as a doctor’s note, supporting accommodations for any employee, contractor, or volunteer not wearing a face covering. This includes having written documentation for any employees wearing a face shield in place of, but not in addition to, a face covering.
- Remind customers or visitors to wear face coverings by (a) posting the requirement at the entrance of the business, and (b) posting clearly visible signs inside the business to remind customers or visitors of the requirement to wear the face covering at all times when in the business. All food and drink establishments must also place a sign on each table asking customers to wear a face covering at food and drink establishments (a) while not eating or drinking, (b) when restaurant staff are at the table, and (c) at all other times when not seated at a table.
- Post signage outlining alternatives to entering the business, indoor or outdoor space open to the public without a face covering (i.e. curbside pickup, in-person appointment or appointment by video or phone). Signage must include contact information for customers in need of alternative accommodation. Printable signs are available here.
- If any individual, who is not an employee, contractor or volunteer, declines to wear a face covering at a business or indoor or outdoor space open to the public due to a medical condition that inhibits such usage, neither the business nor its staff shall require the individual to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition. The business or indoor or outdoor space operator may need to work with that individual to seek a reasonable accommodation. If the business or indoor or outdoor space operator is providing medication, medical supplies, food, or other essential product or service, it must, when possible, provide a reasonable accommodation to access services, such as curbside pick-up, delivery, or an appointment by phone or video. A requested accommodation that would endanger any third party or create any likelihood of further infection is per se unreasonable and therefore not required. A reasonable accommodation does not include simply allowing a customer inside without a face covering. Examples of reasonable accommodations include delivery, curbside pickup or visit by appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. Research has shown that certain more densely-woven fabrics may be more effective. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand, or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.
The primary role of cloth face coverings are to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but may not show symptoms. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for washing hands, physical distancing while in public settings, and staying home, but they may be helpful when combined with these actions.
You are required to wear a face covering in public settings, including in grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and on public transportation. Wearing a cloth face covering does not eliminate the need to physically distance yourself from others. If you are sick, you should wear a cloth face covering, over your nose and mouth if you must be around other people — even while at home.
Washing your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily is strongly recommended. Use a bag or bin to store cloth face coverings until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on or adjusting the mask, and avoid touching your face. Discard cloth face coverings that:
- Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps
- No longer cover the mouth and nose
- Don’t stay on the face
- Have any rips or holes in the fabric
- CDC: Considerations for Wearing Masks – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- CDC: Use of Masks to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Get More COVID Data
For more data on Delaware COVID cases, testing and outcomes, including demographic breakdowns, go to My Healthy Community