As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, Gov. Ned Lamont is reconsidering whether to include bars in the state’s phase 3 reopening plan and whether to allow restaurants to increase indoor seating capacity.
Lamont addressed the issue late Monday afternoon, hours after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced indoor dining will not resume on Thursday as planned due to COVID-19 outbreaks in Florida, Arizona, Texas and other states.
And it’s not just Southern states Lamont is monitoring. He’s also keeping a close eye on Ohio and Wisconsin, among other Northern states ramping up their reopening.
Lamont had indicated that bars — incuding the bar portions of restaurants, which are still closed, would reopen under Phase 3, targeted for on or around July 20.
“I probably would say I’m rethinking that, looking at what’s going on in other parts. We thought about increasing occupancy on things like restaurants,” he said. “We’re down to 50 percent for indoor, but again Texas just lowered themselves down to 50 percent for indoor. As I look what’s going on in Texas and Arizona and Florida, we definitely take that as an indicator of what we want to do in mid-July.”
A week ago Connecticut, along with New York and New Jersey, announced a quarantine for travelers from states with rising COVID-19 infection rates, asking them to isolate for 14 days when they arrive here, or produce a negative test for the illness.
The third phase includes opening indoor event spaces and venues for weddings and other gatherings; indoor amusement parks and arcades; and expanding outdoor events from 100 to 250 people.
The reconsideration comes as Connecticut’s COVID-19 decline numbers remain among the strongest in the nation. Lamont and his top aides had said that was the main metric they would use to gauge reopening, along with working closely with neighboring states.
On Monday, Lamont said that’s still the strategy but he can’t ignore more distant states with rising infection rates.
Connecticut has been slowly reopening its economy since May 20, when phase 1 allowed a number of businesses to reopen with limited capacity and requirements for social distancing, mask wearing and sanitizing.
In late May and early June, several municipalities passed resolutions calling on Lamont to reopen faster, which he declined to do. Other states, many of which are now experiencing surging caseloads, reopened quickly in late April and early May, after very few shut down to the extent that Northeast states did.
Facing the surge last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott closed down bars and reduced restaurant capacity to 50 percent in response to the spread of the virus.
“I was interested that for the first time Texas said that in any municipality that requires it you must wear a mask when you’re inside. This is something Connecticut has done from the beginning,” Lamont said. “I’d like to think that a lot of these other states are coming to where we’ve settled on, which has kept our positivity rate much lower than in other parts of the country.”Read Full Article
He added, “I do get anxious because there’s a very narrow margin for error. And when I heard the governor of Arizona saying that in just two weeks our positivity rate went from 4 percent to 14 percent, that’s the hockey stick that reminds you of what risk there is.”
Lamont said he will revisit the issue after the July 4 weekend.
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