HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont has announced phase one of a four-tier plan to reopen parts of the state starting May 20 if coronavirus numbers continue to drop.
On Thursday, the state had its eighth straight day of declines in virus-related hospitalizations.
If that trend continues, businesses like restaurants, hair salons and small retail stores will be able to reopen with restrictions.
Restaurants will be allowed to be takeout or outdoor dining only. Bars and bar areas will not be allowed to open.
“We’re talking about allowing restaurants to open outdoor only starting May 20…that’s condition upon making sure we have the testing, making sure we have the contact tracing,” Lamont said. “And I’ll be particularly interested in what’s going on in Georgia and Oklahoma and some of those states that have a two-week, three-week head start on us in terms of…four-week head start on us in terms of opening up a facility like that to make sure we don’t see any surges or spikes in there.”
The Restaurant Association weighed in saying outdoor tables are a good start, and they understand the circumstances, but without indoor seating, many restaurants will go under shortly, so they are asking the governor to quickly consider limited capacity seating sooner than later.
On Friday state Senate Republican leader Len Fasano also weighed in with concerns about the delay in letting some businesses open.
“What is abundantly clear is that small businesses and their workers are the backbone of Connecticut and every day we delay getting these folks back to work we are worsening the state’s economic problems in the long run, which will have a cascading effect on the state budget, on core social services, and on the most vulnerable populations,” wrote Fasano.
Fasano is asking the governor to move the reopen date to May 10th and consider lifting additional restrictions by providing clear rules and guidance to small businesses and allowing them to implement needed protections.
Lamont said offices that cannot operate as work from home could reopen as well, but suggested that the number of people inside the building be limited.
Museums and zoos would only be able to open outdoor sections, and outdoor recreation sites, like camping, could reopen.
Larger gathering areas like the Hartford Yard Goats stadium would come later in the reopening plan.
Lamont said people can make the decision if they’d like to leave their homes; however, he said those over 70 should stay home.
When asked how people could stay safe in small spaces like bathrooms, officials said businesses will have to be responsible and frequently disinfect surfaces. They also said more training for those businesses and employees would have to take place.
However, leaders said warmer weather is coming and that the virus is less likely to thrive in warm, sunny weather.
Along with the decline in hospitalizations, leader released the following criteria for reopening:
- 14-day decline of hospitalizations.
- Increased testing available.
- Sufficient contact tracing capacity.
- Protect high-risk populations.
- Adequate healthcare capacity.
- Adequate supply of PPE.
- Appropriate physical distancing regulations.