GMW Answers All Your Coronavirus Questions: Dining Out with Friends, Inviting People Over, and More

With Connecticut transitioning to Phase 1 for re-opening, Wilton entered a new normal, one with new rules and guidelines. GOOD Morning Wilton put out a call to readers for their questions on what is allowed–and what isn’t.

We enlisted the help of First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice to answer some of the questions, and she sat down with GMW editor Heather Borden Herve to explain how some social distancing guidelines have eased up, but others are still very much in place.

Is it safe to go for a run with a friend? Can a family of six eat out together at a restaurant? How about five friends who didn’t quarantine together? We’ve got answers to these questions and more.

Below is the complete video interview; following that we also break it up into individual questions and answers.

My husband and I have five children. We’ve all been quarantining together. Can a family of more than five people be seated at a restaurant together?

Say we have a group of five people, but we’re friends–not family, and we’re not quarantining together. Do the new rules allow my friends and me to sit together at a restaurant that offers seating outside?

Can I have my friends over at my house for a hangout if it’s less than 5 people? And do we have to stay a socially-distant 6-feet apart?

Groups larger than 5 can’t gather at a restaurant. But can I have a private gathering of more than five people–at my home?

Am I able to meet up with a friend for a walk or a run outside if we’re both wearing masks?

Is it okay to use a public bathroom, for instance at a restaurant?

According to the Hartford Courant, common, public restrooms, if open, are required to be frequently cleaned and sanitized. However, it may be a good idea to check with the business owner if it’s okay before you use it, or wait if possible. At a restaurant, if you use the bathroom you must wear a mask because of the greater chance of transmission indoors than outdoors. For business owners, retail & mall and restaurant owners are required to clean their public bathrooms multiple times a day (or hourly during busy periods) and are asked to keep a log to track when it was cleaned. And as always, wash your hands.

If the situation is good enough for (retail) and restaurants to reopen, (why) do I need to keep wearing a mask?

Though Connecticut is in Phase 1 of reopening, there are still mandatory measures residents and business owners have to take to keep people safe. This is not a return to normal, but a gradual and carefully calculated adjustment back to more normalcy. According to the Hartford Courant Gov. Lamont said that people are 90% more likely to get an infection when inside than when outside, hence the outdoor only requirement for restaurants and the need for retail to increase ventilation and limit store occupancy. Masks are required for people to wear in restaurants and retail as well as when social distancing is impossible (such as when walking through town on the sidewalk) because masks are designed to protect the person wearing the mask from unknowingly spreading the virus. Thus by not wearing one, you don’t risk your own health as much as you risk the health of everyone around you.

Will there be a summer concert series in Wilton this year?

Will Merwin Meadows be open for Memorial Day?

If I’m wearing a mask, do I still need to follow the 6′ distancing guideline?

Yes, the CDC recommends to keep a 6 feet distance even when wearing a mask. In its recommendation that people wear cloth masks across the United States the CDC said, “It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.” Masks are recommended to help asymptomatic people infected with COVID-19 from unknowingly spreading it, while social distancing “helps limit opportunities to come in contact with contaminated surfaces and infected people outside the home,” the CDC said.

How is the town enforcing social distancing regulations?

As everyone re-emerges from their homes, what is the best way to handle a situation where someone extends a hand to shake or moves in for a hug?

When facing people who might invade your 6-foot “bubble,” first analyze the situation. If someone is biking or running past you and is around you for only a few seconds, the NYT said it’s probably “not a big worry.” But when someone sits within six feet of you and plans to stay there for a long time, or like in this scenario if someone wants to touch, that’s a situation with greater risk. Instead of being confrontational (which could potentially prolong exposure by starting a fight), or just letting it happen, as the Harvard Business Review put, “accept that it’s going to be awkward.” Social norms are changing, and not everyone is on the same page yet. That’s okay. Express your concerns honestly and directly, if someone approaches you with a hug, or avoid that situation entirely start the interaction by setting the expectation that you’re going to follow the rules by saying something like ‘I wish I could hug you but I’m glad to see you from here!’ or ‘I guess we have to just wave for now!’

How can we support small businesses during this time (while) still keeping ourselves safe)?

Even with the CT reopening guidelines, people with pre-existing conditions or people over the age of 65 are still encouraged to stay home as the risk cannot fully be mitigated. For that reason exactly, many retail and restaurant businesses are continuing to offer curbside pickup or delivery, or keeping the online business intact. However, Wilton retail and restaurants have been working dutifully to prepare their stores to follow state guidelines to welcome back customers who feel comfortable. Some stores also recommend purchasing gift cards or accessing their online stores to support them in this time. Access the What’s Open feature on GOOD Morning Wilton to see what individual stores are doing.

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article, Heather! Thanks so much … certainly answers some of the questions we had here at the house. Cheers!

  2. As an active member of the Wilton community (‘70’s-‘90’s), I have stayed in touch with life there thru friends and for awhile The Wilton Bulletin. Now I am a Good Morning Wilton fan and love keeping up with happenings. This pandemic is a true test of leadership and I congratulate First Selectman Vanderslice on meeting the challenge!

    • That’s so kind of you, Jane. I’m so glad we’re able to keep you informed and appreciate your readership. Stay well!

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