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By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter

DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – In the last two days since the City of Delray Beach has officially reopened for Phase 1, locals have been eager to get out and enjoy what the ‘Village by the Sea’ has to offer. However the majority are not wearing face covering, and it is causing concern among authorities and residents.

Atlantic Avenue, Reopening, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
Delray Beach has reopened and residents are out on Atlantic Avenue without face covering, photo by Mike S Payton.

Delray Beach Fire Rescue Chief Tomey said in an interview, “It wasn’t as good as what we hoped for.[…] We did noticed some of the restaurants and bars had some overcrowding not overcrowding like over thier occupancy alone but they weren’t following social distance as they should.”

Adding, “There was very little mask wearing at all. So we just really want a friendly reminder to everybody to to follow the CDC guidelines. Follow the social distancing, please wear your mask when you go out and we’ll keep these numbers low like [they have been] if we follow those those guidelines.”

The Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) provided a statement on social media, “Please keep in mind, we continue to strongly urge all persons to avoid gathering in groups of ten or more people, wear facial coverings when outside your home, practice physical distancing, and continue to wash your hands.”

The DDA confirms that most restaurants in Delray Beach are now open to serve customers on premises, however, they are required to follow social distancing measures. The main one is limiting their indoor occupancy to no more than 25 percent of their building occupancy (not including employees).

Also there is no service from the bar area allowed, and outdoor dining allowed with appropriate social distancing – requires maintaining a minimum of six feet between parties, only seating parties of ten or fewer people, and keeping bar counters closed to seating.

Isabella Santos told WPBF 25 news, while walking on Atlantic Avenue and one of the few wearing a mask. “I rather be safe than to take any risks to infect our family or get ourselves sick […]There is definitely lot more people not wearing their masks anymore, they don’t really care for it but it is still a big part of staying safe from all this,” Santos said.

The one obvious conundrum for following the Palm Beach County and CDC guidelines and wearing face covering is you can’t actually eat or drink with a mask on. However it is the both the pedestrians walking by, and the actual hosts and servers, that are choosing not to that has some concerned.

The debate regarding when and how the reopening happens rages on, with some believing the entire coronavirus pandemic is a hoax. Yet a resident on social media posted, “If all employees are not wearing masks in a restaurant, I will cook at home. Would love to continue to support restaurants taking this seriously.”

The DDA also stated, “We are feeling so much love as we see local faces at our downtown restaurants and business, but we want to remind you there are restrictions and guidelines in place as we go proceed through this phase of reopening.”

Atlantic Avenue, Reopening, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
The Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority is urging people to take advantage of the pickup parking, photo internet recreation.

Adding “we are excited to share our #PickUpDelray Curbside Parking locations, that will allow those people supporting restaurants and businesses the opportunity to park nearby for pick-up!”

There are ten locations with 2-3 spaces each along Atlantic Avenue. In addition, parking throughout Downtown Delray remains FREE, however, time limits are enforced based on the signage at the location.

As of the morning of May 13th, the confirmed cumulative cases are 1,370,460 in the U.S., with more than 82,391 deaths. Florida reports 41,923 coronavirus cases, deaths reach 1,779 deaths. In Palm Beach County, the confirmed cases are 4,093 and deaths are 245.

Fire Rescue Chief Tomey shared yesterday the new cases in Delray Beach by zip code. “In 33483, we got 21 new cases there, and 33444 which is kind of downtown here in the middle of the city is 84 cases. And then we go to West LA 33445, we have 76 cases.”

The CDC provides guidance, “Reopening America requires all of us to move forward together by practicing social distancing and other daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Reopening the country also strongly relies on public health strategies, including increased testing of people for the virus, social distancing, isolation, and keeping track of how someone infected might have infected other people.”

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