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Weddings dip in Delaware during COVID-19 pandemic

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After making some big adjustments to issue marriage licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Delaware clerks of the peace had a busy 2020.

The number of marriage licenses issued did go down, though not as much as one might think considering the restrictions placed on gatherings, venues, restaurants, travel and more. 

Marriage licenses issued dipped by about 10% in Sussex and New Castle counties. Kent County's numbers were nearly identical to the previous year.  

What did change, however, is the way Delaware clerks of the peace do their jobs.

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Prior to late April 2020, anyone wishing to obtain a marriage license had to visit a clerk of the peace office in person. Due to COVID-19, the governor issued a modification to the state of emergency allowing licenses to be issued to applicants appearing by video call.

All three counties adopted the practice initially. Kent and New Castle continue to issue licenses without seeing applicants in person.

In Sussex County, Clerk of the Peace Norman “Jay” Jones opted to require applicants be seen in person again after his office reopened in June, even as the emergency order remained in effect. 

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Also prior to the pandemic, all three counties performed marriage ceremonies in-house. That stopped when the shutdown began, but a few weeks later, both Jones and Kent County Clerk of the Peace Brenda Wootten resumed performing marriage ceremonies.

New Castle County Clerk of the Peace Lisa Darrah stopped performing marriage ceremonies altogether March 18, 2020, and has yet to resume. The building in which the New Castle County offices are located remains closed to the public.