During a press conference on May 20–the day when Connecticut began its first phase of reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of daily life–Gov. Ned Lamont began outlining his plan for the next phases for re-opening the economy and the state.
The sectors already open as of May 20 included manufacturing, construction, real estate, utilities, hospitals, and retail businesses that had been deemed ‘essential’ under safe workplace rules. Other sectors allowed to begin operating on May 20 under sector-specific rules as part of Phase 1 included restaurants (outdoor-only, no bar areas), non-essential retail businesses, offices, outdoor zoos and museums, and outdoor recreation. Hair salons, which had previously been on the Phase 1 list, are now scheduled to reopen on June 1.
Phase Two is scheduled to begin on approximately June 20, depending on five criteria:
- a net increase of less than 100 hospital beds in the last week of Phase 1
- 100,000 tests conducted every week and 50% of people completing contact tracing within 48 hours
- rules and regulations for businesses disseminated two weeks before Phase 2 begins
- implementation of a testing plan for key workers and high-risk communities
- fewer than 20% of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients when compared with the total capacity for COVID-19 patients.
The businesses identified as those that will reopen in Phase 2 are:
- hotels (no bar areas)
- gyms, sports and fitness clubs
- all personal services such as tattoo parlors and nail salons
- outdoor arts, entertainment, and events with up to 50 people
- outdoor amusement parks
- movie theaters
- bowling alleys
- social clubs
- all museums, zoos and aquariums
- restaurants (indoor, no bar)
The governor will also take another look at policies surrounding short-term rentals.
Several educational and community services are also planned to open during Phase 2, although with varying reopening dates. These programs include:
- select youth sports (June 20)
- public libraries (June 20)
- all summer day camps (June 22)
- nonresidential workforce programs (mid-June)
- clinical or laboratory courses (mid-June).
K-12 summer school is supposed to start on July 6, while other nonresidential programs, graduate programs, and small-scale undergraduate pilot programs are scheduled to return in July or August.
The governor also said that K-12 schools, boarding schools, and undergraduate residential programs are scheduled to return in the fall.
All businesses will be required to self-certify that they are following strict safety guidelines before they reopen, and they will be provided with a badge they can post on their website or in their business. Lamont said the process is intended to increase compliance, improve awareness of reopening regulations, and give consumers the confidence to shop.
Although the state has already started to reopen, Phase 2 could be delayed if hospitalizations rise above 100 in the last week of the first phase, while if more than 200 people are hospitalized within a week might necessitate a rollback of Phase 1.
Dr. Albert Ko, a co-chair of the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group task force and a chairman at the Yale School of Public Health, said during the May 20 press conference that there is a possibility of increased transmission as the state reopens.
“We’re going to be going into uncharted territory. As we are increasing the social contact rate, we are going to inevitably have transmission, and that may translate into hospitalizations,” he said. “My own judgment is that we’re going to have increased transmission as we increase contact coming off of strong social distancing, but at the same time we’re going to be putting in the mitigation that’s needed to suppress that. We may have some ups, we may have some downs.”
Despite this possibility, Lamont emphasized the guiding principles of putting safety first and relying on science, data, and healthcare experts, in addition to preparing for a surge in cases, allowing businesses to choose to delay their reopening and a commitment to adapting as the situation changes.
Residents or employees who want to report noncompliance with rules and regulations can contact local law enforcement, call 2-1-1 or submit a Reopen Connecticut Complaint form online.