WEEKEND #7, 2020
(Independence Day Weekend)
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
A LACKLUSTER INDEPENDENCE DAY
There were no fireworks, no bandstand performances and it was fairly easy finding parking at the beach this past holiday weekend thanks to the Covid crisis.
"The weekend sales were pretty awful from those I've talked with," says Steve "Monty" Montgomery from The Starboard, who is also the Dewey Business Partnership president. It was "certainly the worst July 4th weekend sales-wise we've had in our 22 years in business. From the messaging put out by the Governor's office this past week that 'Beach Bars are Closed' to the new policy in Rehoboth that face masks are required on our beaches, add in the canceling of most firework displays, these messages had crippling effects on the local economy over the 4th of July," he pointed out.
People took the message as "The Beaches and the Restaurants are closed" when in fact that was not the case, Montgomery explained. Many hotels went from 90/100 percent reservations for this holiday weekend on Monday last week down to 30/40 percent because of cancellations once the message came out that "beach bars are closing," he said.
"I've seen traffic on the highway busier on a February weekend than this year's 4th of July weekend," Montgomery pointed out. "The mental health of business owners and employees is a growing concern as negativity towards the decisions being made and the resulting message being sent is the topic of every conversation in this resort area," he added.
"The sales figures this past weekend for local restaurants were staggering drops compared with previous years. We all understand and respect what needs to be done for the safety of everyone with respect to Covid-19," he explained, "only wish the political folks making these decisions could understand the damage being caused by the negative messaging that went viral this week on our area being closed. It's a very challenging situation for all."
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SOME RESTAURANTS CLOSE FOR COVID, OTHERS CUT BACK
Traditionally, one of the busiest weekends of the summer, this Independence Day was a disappointment for resort bars and restaurants. Some restaurants closed entirely, others like Dogfish Head switched to carry-out only, and still, others simply closed their bar tops and served customers as allowed at their tables.
Although "bars" were closed, restaurants with bars were allowed to serve customers at tables under the Phase 1 restrictions with no reservations requirement. But patrons can be seated anywhere inside the restaurant -- provided they are "socially distant" -- and be served food or drinks by a server.
That caused a great deal of confusion and appears to have discouraged visitors.
Those restaurants that remained open often had challenges with employees who were reluctant to come to work or who may have tested positive for Covid-19. Last week the state placed special emphasis on testing people in the Rehoboth-Dewey area, especially restaurant workers.
One of the first test sites was at The Starboard last Monday. That is where hundreds came to get tested.
Close to 4000 restaurant employees in the area have now been tested, said Steve "Monty" Montgomery from The Starboard. Beebe Healthcare, Montgomery says, is implementing a program to work with some restaurants over the remaining eight to 10 weeks of summer to help perform random testing as a proactive way to help keep folks healthy and identify potential virus issues that could arise.
"The restaurant community has taken aggressive action in recent weeks to ensure their employees are healthy and safe and that their customers can have confidence that they can safely dine in places throughout this beach community," Montgomery adds.
An employer can request an employee's test results, but an employee does not have to provide it. "An employer can ask any employee for a doctor's note on whether they can or cannot return to work," Montgomery said. "It can be tricky," he pointed out, "but we are fortunate that our employees have been very open about going to get tested, and doing the right thing."
However, if someone tests positive, as part of the contact tracing protocol, it's up to the employer to let anyone who worked the last shift with that person... let them know that a team member has tested positive and ask those who worked that shift to go be tested," he added.
Photo courtesy Steve Montgomery
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FUNLAND KIND'A OPEN
Rehoboth Beach Museum to host conversations on Funland history this Thursday.
It was a welcome sight. Funland opened five boardwalk games this past Thursday just in time for the holiday weekend: Muffin Pan, Basketball, Beachball, Balloon Bust and Rings. By Friday, Derby, Skatterball, Frog Bog and an area with all the cranes also opened.
Christopher Darr, Funland personnel manager, says the games will continue to be open on the boardwalk and they hope to include a small area inside the park to access the cranes and redemption machines. "Due to the rise in Covid cases in our community we have to push back our tentative ride opening further," he said. Funland management, he added, will meet with state officials later today to determine a plan forward.
The Rehoboth Beach Museum will sponsor an online program this Thursday, July 9, at 2:30 p.m. for a conversation with Chris Lindsley, author of Land of Fun: The Story of an Old-Fashioned Amusement Park for the Ages. Lindsley's book is filled with personal history of Funland and is based on primary research with the family. It is also part memoir of his six summers operating rides and games at Funland.
To register for this program please go to rehobothbeachmuseum.org and click on the events tab to register for this program.
Here are Lindsley and Al Fasnacht last year at the Rehoboth Beach Museum during one of the previous discussions.
Photo courtesy Funland
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DART BUS AND SUV COLLIDE ON STATE RD
A Toyota Rav4 collided with a DART Bus running the 201 route on State Road near Munson Street around 1:50 p.m. this past Friday. Rehoboth Beach police, says spokesman Lt. Jaime Riddle, charged the driver of this Toyota Rav4 with disregarding a stop sign.
The 43-year-old bus driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
State Road was blocked for about 30 minutes.
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ONLINE FORUMS SCHEDULED FOR R.B. CANDIDATES
The first of two online candidate forums is set for this Wednesday, July 8, at 11 a.m. The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the event. Info will be posted on the website when it is available.
Websites/Facebook pages for the candidates:
The CAMP/RBHA annual candidate forum will be online on Saturday, July 18, at 11 a.m. The link to the forum will be posted on the CAMP Rehoboth website. The candidates will be at the CAMP Community Center without an audience.
Last week there was some question about the campaign signs that had been placed in front of Hugh Fuller's restaurant, the Purple Parrot, along the expanded seating area. "I have had the city tell me they had a complaint that my signs out front of the Parrot were not allowed," he said. That was the "first time in 15 years they said anything... But I can fasten them to my building, not a big deal and will be better exposure anyway. I get it on the city's part," he added, not wanting to "stir the pot. Just funny they never said a word about it in any other election year."
There was also a complaint that somebody has been moving campaign signs from private property to public property. "[I] don't think it's very widespread," Jay Lagree said. "None of our folks are putting signs on public property. Everybody knows the difference," he added. The city is strict about signs in the public right-of-way or on public property
The election this year is Saturday, August 8. Voters must register at city hall no later than this Thursday, July 9. Details are on the city website.
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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
A Delaware Bay Sunset by John Whitmore...
A black skimmer at Gordon's Pond by Rick Tananis...
Rehoboth sunrise by Kelley Gillespie...
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MERR NEWS--- Suzanne Thurman from the MERR Institute says MERR investigated two dead loggerheads on Saturday, one off Cape Henlopen and the other near the Lewes Yacht Club. No word yet on the cause of death.
MILITARY ORDNANCE RECOVERED AT FORT MILES--- Cpl. Jason Hatchell, state police spokesman, says unexploded ammo, later determined to be non-explosive, was recovered by bomb techs near Fort Miles after it was discovered around 5 p.m. last Wednesday.
WOMAN DIES IN CRASH NEAR REHOBOTH--- An 86-year-old woman died after an accident on Old Landing Road and Fairway Drive outside Rehoboth. The crash happened this past Friday around 5:50 p.m. Police say she was following another car too closely, lost control and struck a pole in her Mazda 6. The roadway was closed for about an hour. Info is on the DSP website.
BICYCLIST SERIOUSLY INJURED ON BIKE TRAIL--- A 66-year-old male bicyclist suffered serious injuries to his face after a bicycle collision on the Georgetown-Lewes Trail near Minos Conaway Road, west of Lewes around 1 p.m. this past Saturday. He was taken to Beebe Hospital.
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