Delaware governor rescinds universal indoor mask mandate

February 7, 2022 GMT

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Democratic Gov. John Carney is rescinding an order he imposed a month ago requiring Delawareans to wear masks in indoor business settings.

While the universal mask mandate will expire at 8 a.m. Friday, Carney on Monday temporarily extended the mask requirement in public and private K-12 schools and child care facilities to Thursday, March 31.

Administration officials said the temporary extension will give parents time to get their children vaccinated before expiration of the mask requirement. It will also allow local school administrators and school boards to consider their own mask requirements.

“We’re in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the Omicron surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Carney said in a statement, while urging people to get vaccinated.

Carney imposed the mask mandate less than a month ago, saying Delaware hospital systems were facing “a crisis-level situation” with record numbers of people seeking emergency care. The mandate required Delawareans to wear masks in grocery stores, convenience stores, gyms, restaurants, malls and other indoor settings. It exempted churches and other houses of worship.

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In December, 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.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.