Delaware governor mandates masks in indoor settings

January 10, 2022 GMT

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Democratic Gov. John Carney is ordering Delawareans to wear masks in indoor business settings and extending a mask requirement for schools and child care facilities.

Carney on Monday signed a revision to a previously issued State of Emergency declaration that will requiring Delawareans to wear masks in grocery stores, convenience stores, gyms, restaurants, malls and other indoor settings starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

He also said that indoor mask requirements in K-12 public and private schools and child care facilities, which had been set to expire in early February, will be extended indefinitely.

“Our hospital systems are facing a crisis-level situation with record numbers of Delawareans seeking emergency care. We need all Delawareans in the fight as we face this winter surge of COVID-19 to make sure our hospitals are not overrun,” Carney said in a statement.

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Masks will not be required outdoors or while eating or drinking. Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the mask requirement.

Last month, two Delaware pastors filed lawsuits seeking to prohibit Carney and his successors from exercising emergency powers that would restrict religious gatherings and practices. The clerics also are seeking a declaration that Carney’s previous COVID-19 restrictions on religious practices were unconstitutional.

The complaints were filed a little more than a year after the settlement of a federal lawsuit in which another pastor had challenged Carney’s coronavirus restrictions as unconstitutional.

Carney rescinded many of the restrictions after the federal lawsuit was filed, and his lawyers argued that the claims were moot. But the plaintiff’s attorneys, some of whom are also involved in the lawsuits filed last month, asked for an injunction prohibiting the governor from imposing similar limitations in the future.

Attorneys noted in last month’s court filings that, in settling the federal lawsuit, Carney reserved the right to impose “neutral rules of general applicability” that could affect houses of worship, and to take any enforcement action authorized by law against a house of worship or affiliated ministry.

Also Monday, Carney deployed 70 more members of the Delaware National Guard to assist with non-clinical operations inside Delaware hospitals, starting Tuesday.

About 110 members of the Guard, separate from the 70 deployed Monday, are training to serve as certified nursing assistants in health care settings to take pressure off hospital systems. Carney’s order waives a requirement that certified nursing assistant trainees must complete 150 hours of training, but states that any individual seeking certification must complete 75 classroom hours and 16 clinical hours before taking the certification exam.

Carney’s order also waives a requirement that CNA trainees complete a mandatory orientation period.