By CBS3 Staff

WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS/AP) — Delaware is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions. Restaurants, retail locations, gyms, houses of worship, arts venues, and other businesses can operate at 50% capacity beginning Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 a.m., Gov. John Carney announced Thursday.

The businesses must continue to follow all COVID-19 procedures in place.

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Carney is also allowing youth and amateur sports tournaments to resume. Any Delawareans who travel out of the state for sports tournaments and competitions are strongly encouraged — but not required — to self-quarantine.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Delaware has increased slightly. But the coronavirus situation in the state has greatly improved over the last month.

Delaware health officials reported 286 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday and 22 additional deaths related to COVID-19. However, the state appears be to be coming off a surge of hospitalizations that coincided with the holiday season.

“We are administering more vaccines each day, and we continue to see improvement in our COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations statewide. That’s good news, but it’s no reason to let our guard down,” Carney said in a statement. “We need to make sure we’re distributing the vaccine equitably across our state. That is a priority. And we need to limit community spread of this virus. We know what works. Until we can vaccinate enough Delawareans, continue to wear a mask. Avoid gatherings. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s stay vigilant.”

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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