Lamont’s New COVID-19 Orders: Social Gatherings Limited to 5 People, Plastic Bags OK Again

Gov. Ned Lamont today signed an executive order that puts sharp new limits on most social gatherings to no more than five people; places restrictions on payment and pickup operations at restaurants; and implements measures designed to bring back single-use plastic checkout bags, and curtail reusable shopping bags. Those and other new measures were part of the governor’s 14th executive order signed Thursday, March 26.

Here are the details in the executive order, which are designed to limit person-to-person contact:

  • Restricts all social and recreational gatherings to no more than five people (with the exception of religious gatherings, which are limited to no more than 50): The order modifies the governor’s earlier executive order placing limits on the amount of people who can participate in social and recreational gatherings and reduces that number to no more than five people, through at least April 30, 2020 unless otherwise modified. This order includes, but is not limited to, community, civic, leisure, or sporting events; parades; concerns; festivals; plays or live performances; conventions and similar activities; except that religious, spiritual, or worship gatherings will remain subject only to the prohibition of 50 persons or more. This does not apply to government operations, private workplaces, retail establishments, or other activities that are not social or recreational gatherings.
  • Restricts restaurant payment and pickup operations: Where reasonably practicable, the order requires restaurants, eating establishments, and any bars that remain open for sales of food for off-premise consumption to limit entrance of customers or third party delivery personnel into their locations to the minimum extent necessary to pick up and/or pay for orders, use touchless payment systems, and require remote ordering and payment. The order does not require businesses to acquire or use ordering or payment technology that they do not already have, doesn’t prohibit drive-through ordering and pickup, and doesn’t prohibit in-person payment or cash payment where this is no reasonable alternative. Previously issued guidance for hospital and business cafeterias remains in effect.
  • Further restricts retail operations, by requiring all retail establishments that have been allowed to remain open and permit customers inside to take appropriate and reasonable measures to ensure customers maintain six feet of distance between each other and to manage any resulting lines to maintain such distance while people are waiting to enter. It also requires these establishments, where reasonably practical, to employ touchless payment technology if they already have such technology available and the customer has such technology available.
  • Requires firearm transactions to be conducted by appointment only: The order requires all retail businesses that sell firearms, ammunition, and other similar components or supplies to conduct all transactions by appointment only in order to limit person-to-person contact as much as possible, effective immediately. Appointments must be limited in order to allow a six-foot distance between any customers and staff in a store, and only customers conducting such transactions will be allowed in the store.
  • Suspension of tax on single-use checkout bags: The order temporarily suspends certain state statutes in order to suspend any tax on single-use plastic checkout bags at grocery stores and other retail businesses.
  • Prohibits employers from requiring employees to place items in customers’ reusable bags: The order prohibits employers of any grocery store or retail business from requiring their employees to bag items into a customer-provided reusable bag. Customers are still permitted to use reusable bags, but they may need to bag their own items.
  • Suspends 21-month limit on Temporary Family Assistance: The order modifies certain statutes and regulations to exclude from the 21-month time limit on receipt of Temporary Family Assistance all months of such assistance received during the public health and civil preparedness emergency. Suspending the time limit for this program will help families get the time and resources they need to get back on their path to self-sufficiency after the emergency is over.
  • Suspends school testing assessments for the 2019-2020 school year: Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major disruption on schools, the order waives all annual student assessment testing requirements for the current school year.
By the Numbers (March 26, 2020)*
  • New one-day positive cases in CT residents:  137
  • Total CT cases:  1,012 (includes 6,500-plus tests conducted in state and private labs)
  • Total People hospitalized:  125 (49 in Fairfield County)
  • Total Fairfield County cases: 607 (up 61 in one day)
  • Total CT fatalities due to complications from COVID-19: 21 (13 in Fairfield County)

Visit the state’s coronavirus webpage for several additional charts and tables containing more data groups, including a town-by-town breakdown of positive cases in each municipality and a breakdown of cases and deaths among age groups.

*Editor’s Note:  According to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, these numbers may be underreported, because the state is no longer getting information directly from some hospitals or clinics. For example, the state lists 17 positive cases in Wilton, when Wilton’s Health Department knows of 20 positive cases; in addition, the state has only included one Wilton death in its Thursday count, when two Wilton residents have died.  

Governor Lamont requests presidential major disaster declaration

Also on Thursday, Lamont submitted a request to FEMA for a presidential major disaster declaration for the State of Connecticut. If the disaster declaration is approved, Connecticut residents may have access to additional resources to support childcare, crisis counseling, and other needs identified as a result of the pandemic.

Business can now apply for the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program

The emergency loan program created by Lamont that provides no-interest loans to Connecticut small businesses and nonprofits hurt by the global spread of COVID-19 has now launched. Businesses and nonprofits can begin applying for the program, which was created to provide immediate assistance with cash flow.

State continues receiving donations of Personal Protective Equipment

Residents, businesses, and other organizations around Connecticut continue responding to a request for donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that Governor Lamont issued last week.

Since the last update, some of the recent donations include:

  • Mercy Free Dental Clinic:  Nitrile gloves, earloop masks, disinfectant wipes, Clorox bleach germicidal wipes, Clorox hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, lab coats, and isolation and patient gowns.
  • Bethel Public Schools:  Nitrile gloves, earloop masks, disinfectant wipes, N95 masks, oral thermometers, oral thermometer covers, Braun Tremoscan PC200s.
  • Glastonbury Public Schools: N95 masks, children’s surgical earloop masks, adult surgical earloop masks, vinyl powder free exam gloves

Lamont thanks everyone for their generous donations. Those with PPE that they would like to donate to the state’s supply for distribution in medical facilities should fill out the form on the state’s coronavirus website.