Restaurants’ new focus: Will Carney follow CDC, remove indoor mask mandate

Betsy PriceBusiness, Food & Dining, Government & Politics, Headlines, Health

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UPDATE: Carney said today that he would not announced a decision until next week.

Yes, restaurants are having trouble finding workers.

Yes, restaurants are worried about having to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour as they come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But what restaurant owners and managers were really talking about Thursday was the Centers for Disease Control’s announcement that those who are vaccinated no longer have to wear masks indoors or out.

They want to know when Gov. John Carney will update his COVID-19 emergency order to include that, because his last version allowed restaurants to go to full capacity, but still required masks indoors for diners and workers.

And Delaware restaurants have to abide by his order, no matter what the CDC said.

“We’re hoping the governor acts swiftly and quickly and complies with the CDC’s recommendation, follows the science and amends his executive order to reflect what the CDC said, which is masks no longer need to be worn inside by vaccinated people,” said Carl Georigi, CEO of Platinum Dining Group. It owns Eclipse Bistro, Capers and Lemons, Taverna and more.

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Carney’s spokesman said state officials are considering what to do.

“We’re reviewing the new CDC guidance, which was just published this afternoon,” said Jonathan Starkey in a text. “Delaware’s emergency order still requires masks indoors. We will communicate updates to Delaware’s requirements once we have reviewed the implications of CDC’s guidance.”

Starkey said the evidence is clear that vaccines are extremely safe and effective.

“And Delawareans who are fully vaccinated have significant protection from COVID-19 infection and serious illness,” Starkey said. “We would encourage all Delawareans to get vaccinated at”

On Friday, during the unveiling of the Riverfront Development Corp.’s plans for the east side of the Christina River, Carney told people attending — who sitting socially distanced under a tent — that they could take off their masks. He already had.

“By the beginning of next week, we’ll have some kind of assessment of what to do with the President (Joe Biden) said last night about taking off the mask,” Carney said. “But right now,  you’re good to take it off, or leave it on.”

Delaware had plenty of company in not immediately embracing the CDC’s new guidance, which still recommended even the vaccinated wear masks when flying, on public transit, visiting health care facilities or in places where lots of people live together, such as prisons or homeless shelters. While a few state immediately embraced it, many others reacted cautiously and said they were reviewing it, too.

Allowing diners and workers to take off their masks will make work easier for employees and will be more welcoming to guests, who are starting to return, Georigi said.

When he was asked if he would require guests to show proof of vaccination, Georigi stopped short of saying no.

“You know, at some point we have to go back to trusting our fellow man, so it will be interesting to see what the approach will be,” he said. “This information is new, so we’re just digesting it right now, but it’s a huge step in the right direction for not only our industry, but for all the industries in terms of recovery, trying to stabilize our businesses and get back to economic prosperity.”




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