Fourth of July weekend is almost here, and we’re betting a lot of people are counting down the days until they can get to the Delaware beaches and celebrate.
But before you pack the sparklers and hamburgers, or turn up the radio, make sure you know what to expect this holiday weekend. We’ve got you covered.
If you’re planning a beach visit this weekend, this guide will help answer your questions ranging from July Fourth traffic and transportation to the restaurant and bar scene to the latest weather forecast.
Here’s what you need to know.
To mask or not to mask?
There is no mask mandate in Delaware.
Fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks in most outdoor and indoor settings. All Delaware beach towns have also lifted any local mask requirements.
The state says unvaccinated individuals should continue wearing masks, but it has no way of enforcing that without knowing who is vaccinated and who isn’t.
Resort towns like Rehoboth Beach and Lewes are asking unvaccinated people to wear masks during the Fourth of July celebrations. The municipalities remind people that anyone who wishes to wear a mask is free to do so as large crowds are expected.
It may be wise to bring a mask with you because individual businesses can establish their own mask-wearing rules. While fewer are requiring it, beachgoers will notice some stores – ranging from gift shops to the outlets to grocery and liquor stores – continue to post signs that ask customers to wear masks while inside.
If taking public transportation to get to fireworks or other activities, remember that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise people to continue wearing masks when traveling by public transit.
Masks are required in other areas such as doctors’ offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
An extra tip: If you’re still looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine, pop-up clinics are happening around the beaches for residents and visitors. In Rehoboth Beach, people can stop by the City Hall to get vaccinated or tested every Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. through July 15.
What to expect in DE restaurants and bars
Visitors will notice that restaurants, breweries and bars are filling at a quick pace as restrictions have loosened and more people are vaccinated.
The biggest piece of advice? Have patience.
With many restaurants short-staffed, you may experience slightly longer waits or notice that the servers are covering more tables than normal. Since these businesses are in the process of hiring, some of the employees may also still be in training.
The widespread staffing challenge means some restaurants may also change their hours or suspend certain services. You may want to make early reservations, follow your favorite spots on social media or call ahead to stay updated.
There are also no more capacity limits or social distancing requirements in restaurants.
As a reminder, Delaware businesses – including restaurants and bars – can still choose to require masks or social distancing for their employees and customers.
Something else visitors will notice: People no longer have to be seated at bars, and dance floors can open without a plan pre-approved by the state Division of Public Health.
Outdoor dining remains popular, and several restaurants have added seating in parking lots, sidewalks or additional patios and decks.
In Rehoboth Beach, restaurants can continue to use public sidewalks for outdoor dining through Oct. 31. As of early May, nearly 50 businesses registered to offer dining or retail racks on Rehoboth sidewalks.
Special July Fourth traffic alerts
Some roads will be closed and drivers may experience delays due to fireworks and other celebrations this weekend.
In Rehoboth Beach, drivers will not be able to use Rehoboth Avenue east or Church Street to head into town starting at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 3.
In Lewes, both bridges at Savannah Road and Freeman Highway (Route 9) will be closed starting at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, on Sunday, July 4. They will be open to pedestrians and bicyclists.
In Dewey Beach, Dagsworthy Avenue (on the bayside) will be closed at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, and will remain closed until the fireworks are over.
DART’s bus services, including the 305 Beach Connection and Beach Bus, will be operating on a regular Sunday schedule on the Fourth.
However, closures in Lewes mean some bus stations are closed 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., according to DART’s website. The agency asks people who are leaving the fireworks celebration to board at the Market Street at Second Street stop.
Parking and transportation at Delaware beaches
All resort towns from Lewes to Fenwick Island have their seasonal parking rules in place.
Parking is free after 4 p.m. every Monday in Rehoboth Beach.
Lewes has several free non-metered parking lots listed on its website, as well as metered lots and spaces on side streets.
When visiting Delaware State Parks like Cape Henlopen, parking is included in the entrance fee.
In Dewey Beach, parking is free in all permit-only and metered spaces Monday through Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. only. All other days and times, you must pay to park on public streets.
Fenwick Island and South Bethany mostly require permits to park, but Fenwick offers free parking on its side streets after 4 p.m.
In Bethany Beach, all spaces are either metered or require a permit through Sept. 15.
Many of these towns and cities offer payment through the ParkMobile app.
For more about parking (or State Park fees), visit each beach town’s website:
Want to forget about parking and take a bus to the beach? Parking is free at the park and rides in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.
These routes to the local beach areas and boardwalks are now available, as well as the 305 Beach Connection from Wilmington to Rehoboth Beach.
The cost to ride the bus is $2 per trip, $4 for a daily pass, $16 for a seven-day pass or $60 for a 30-day pass. Information will be updated on DART’s website, and people can download an app to purchase rides or keep track of schedules.
If traveling around Bethany Beach, the town also offers a trolley with a single route that runs from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and costs only 25 cents per trip.
4th of July weekend weather in Delaware
The forecast is showing some rain this weekend, but, of course, it could always change for the better. A little optimism never hurt anyone, right?
The greatest chance of rain comes Friday with showers and a possible thunderstorm most likely before 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service forecast for Rehoboth Beach.
Temperatures should hover around the high 70s to low 80s during the day all weekend.
The chance of precipitation drops to 30% on Saturday with possible showers and thunderstorms after 3 p.m.
Independence Day looks like it could be sunny just in time for the celebration with a high near 79.
If sticking around on Monday, the weather is expected to be sunny with a high near 83.
Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from the inland towns to the beaches. Got a story she should tell? Contact her at email@example.com or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @emily3lytle.