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Beach Towns to DC Vacation-Home Owners: Stay Away

Locals in Rehoboth and other towns are pleading with would-be Washington escapers to stay home.

Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. Photograph by Ted Eytan from Unsplash.
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If you’re considering riding out the Covid-19 crisis at your Rehoboth Beach house, the people of Sussex County, Delaware, have a message for you: Don’t.

In a statement Monday, the county council’s president, Michael H. Vincent, implored out-of-towners to stay away. “Now is not the time to visit. And this is not the time for a mini-vacation,” he said. “Sussex County and Delaware are in the midst of a national crisis, and our first responders, hospitals, health care workers, and local and state officials need you to stay in your home communities.”

Vincent’s statement follows a declaration issued Sunday by Delaware governor John Carney that orders anyone who enters Delaware from another state to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. According to the governor’s office, failure to comply will constitute a criminal offense, and law enforcement may conduct traffic stops on vehicles registered out-of-state.

To be clear, Sussex County—which includes such popular summer-home destinations as Rehoboth, Lewes, and Dewey Beach—has not outright banned non-residents from moving into their second residences, as some beach communities, such as North Carolina’s Outer Banks, have. But local officials hope Washingtonians will take seriously their plea to stay put. “I can assure you, our sandy beaches, quaint seaside resorts, forested trails, and everything else Sussex County proudly has to offer will be here waiting for you when this crisis has passed,” said Vincent.

As of Sunday, the state of Delaware had 232 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 66 in Sussex County.

Comments on the City of Rehoboth Beach’s Facebook page offer a glimpse into the local  anxiety. “They believe as second home owners they have every God given right to come and go as they may because they pay ‘taxes’ on said property and the government has no authority to dictate their activity. … Time for the Governor to explain to them otherwise,” wrote one commenter over the weekend.

Wrote another: “Some are acting like this is a vacation and leisure time. It is not. Marshall [sic] law should not need to be imposed for these people to understand the lethal consequences of their actions. …they are putting the rest of us at risk because of their cavalier and entitled behavior.”

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She was previously a reporter for Legal Times and the National Law Journal. She has recently written about the decades-old slaying of a young mother in rural Virginia, and the brazen con of a local real-estate scion. Kashino lives in Northeast DC with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.