Call it a rebirth, a cautious economic choice or risky business, but day one of the Reopen Connecticut campaign has arrived.
Phase one of Gov. Ned Lamont’s four-phase reopening plan is outlined by a lengthy list of rules and regulations for businesses that choose to partake. Those permitted to serve customers, clients and visitors for the first time since March 23 include restaurants, offices, retail stores, outdoor museums and zoos.
Specific guidelines related to each of these sectors have been outlined on the state of Connecticut’s website, ct.gov.
In his news briefing Tuesday evening, the governor outlined his enforcement plans.
“Connecticut’s been really good,” Lamont told the press. “The people of Connecticut took our rules seriously. I know it’s getting summery out there and people are getting frisky but it’s important to do this. These rules are not just to keep the store owners and customers safe but to keep entire communities safe.”
The governor went on to assert that state authorities will step in if individual towns choose to forego guidelines and allow other types of businesses to reopen before it’s mandated or turn a blind eye to those not following the rules.
He also encouraged individual businesses to weigh their decision to reopen carefully, with the understanding that they must follow the prescribed rules. New protocol was developed by the governor’s office in collaboration with the DECD and members of the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, which include medical experts and representatives from business and industry groups.
In general, all stores, restaurants, offices and attractions are required to restrict visitor capacity to 50 percent. Strict cleaning protocols have been released and employees, trained. People over age 65 are still considered “at-risk” and are encouraged to stay home whenever possible and not patronize the businesses that reopen.
People who do visit the newly-opened businesses are asked to do so alone or in groups of less than five.
Restaurants will only be serving diners outdoors on patio areas, with tables spaced at least six feet apart.
Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner David Lehman launched an ad-hoc task force to provide guidance and support to small businesses as they implement the state’s required steps for reopening.
“We are grateful to these organizations who represent the voices of our communities and our small businesses for agreeing to work with DECD and AdvanceCT in a team effort to provide the best possible guidance and support to our small businesses,” Lehman said. “We share the goal of helping businesses across the state to reopen as quickly as possible, while adopting these new and necessary measures to keep our communities safe.”
State officials said they expect to gradually loosen safeguards as progress is made in terms of public health during the ongoing pandemic, but did not specify further.
The next set of businesses will be allowed to reopen over coming months, through September 2020.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.