Maximum restaurant and office capacity at 50%; frequent cleaning of all high-touch points; and face masks or cloth face coverings for all employees and customers are among the various guidelines that will be in place when Connecticut begins its soft reopening of businesses on May 20.
At today’s daily briefing, Gov. Ned Lamont stressed that not every business that is allowed to open on that date will do so, and opined that business may be slow at first, as customers get more comfortable with the idea of patronizing stores.
The focus is “Safety first and science-driven,” said Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman. The state’s approach involves what he said is “an adaptive plan that can be nimbly scaled or rolled back rapidly, based on real-time critical health metrics.”
Businesses allowed to reopen will include hair – but not nail – salons, and they will be conducting business under strict guidelines. Waiting rooms will remain closed and services will be conducted by appointment only. Workstations must be 6 feet apart; if not physically possible, physical barriers between workstations must be in place.
Blow dryers are forbidden, and conversation is to be kept to a minimum, while clients will wear masks or cloth face coverings throughout the appointment.
Other measures – providing each customer with a clean smock, soaking tools in disinfectant between appointments – are already a matter of course at many salons.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said she has remained in regular contact with hair salon owners and that she expects to “continue the conversation” as the situation develops.
As previously reported, restaurants must maintain a maximum of 50% capacity and offer outdoor dining only. Bar areas, dance floors, on-site playgrounds and the like will remain closed.
Tables must be 6 feet apart; along with chairs, they must be sanitized between groups. Bathrooms and other high-contact areas must be cleaned “frequently,” although Lehman said that term would not be precisely defined by the government.
Menus will be on disposable paper, available digitally or written on chalkboards or whiteboards; silverware must be packaged or rolled. Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes must be available at each entrance and exit.
All employees must wear the aforementioned face coverings, as must customers unless they are actually dining.
In addition to the 50% capacity and strict attention to hygiene measures in place for the businesses above, meetings should be limited to five people, employees must sit 6 feet apart and face masks must be worn unless one is alone in his or her private office. Lehman said efforts at limiting capacity in elevators should also be made.
Measures specific to retail stores – which will include those at shopping malls – include closing fitting rooms and self-serve areas; putting up physical barriers at checkout, a la grocery stores; and thorough cleaning of carts and baskets.
All businesses are encouraged to offer increased ventilation and air circulation, and to encourage contactless payment where possible.
Additional guidance is available at:
- Hair Salons & Barbershops
- Museums and Zoos (Outdoor Only)
- Restaurants (Outdoor Only)
- Retail & Malls
Lehman added that whether a business opens on May 20 is up to that business’s owner; however, if and when it does open, it must comply with the rules. Specific enforcement guidelines are forthcoming, he said.
The state conducted another 2,804 tests and received 374 positive results over the past 24 hours, bringing those respective totals to 111,447 and 30,995. Hospitalizations were down by 55 to 1,455, while deaths increased by 85 to 2,718.
In Fairfield County, another 200 positive cases were recorded, along with an additional 29 deaths, for respective totals of 12,879 and 1,006. Hospitalizations fell by 30 to 439; as a result, Fairfield for the first time since the pandemic began does not have the most hospitalizations in the state. New Haven County, whose hospitalizations declined by 20, has 448.
Stamford has the most positive COVID-19 cases in the state, with 2,855, followed by Bridgeport (2,341), New Haven (1,884), Norwalk (1,701), Waterbury (1,486), Danbury (1,483), Hartford (1,384), West Haven (842), Hamden (758), Greenwich (714), and Stratford (639).
Five Republicans have been named by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (California) to serve on the special subcommittee to oversee the spending of COVID-19 relief funds and prevent price gouging and profiteering.
Those lawmakers – Jim Jordan (Ohio), House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (Louisiana), Blaine Luetkemeyer (Missouri), Jackie Walorski (Indiana), and Mark Green (Tennessee) – will join seven Democrats on what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has said is intended to be a bipartisan panel.
“While Democrats might use this to take another stab at impeachment 2.0, Republicans will remain committed to truth and transparency,” McCarthy said.
Jordan pledged to “work with colleagues to help fight for the truth and push back against this blatant attempt to use the coronavirus pandemic for partisan ends.”
In the meantime, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) are continuing to work on another COVID-19 relief bill. Originally anticipated to be revealed this week, it now apparently will be announced next week.
“We need big, bold action,” Schumer told MSNBC this morning, adding that he and Pelosi “are working very closely together on putting together a very strong plan, which you will hear shortly.”
“We need Franklin Rooseveltian-type action and we hope to take that in the House and Senate in a very big and bold way,” Schumer said.
Noting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) earlier this week said Congress should “take a pause” before passing more relief legislation, Schumer said: “The people like McConnell and McCarthy and even Trump who say, ‘Let’s wait and do nothing,’ well, they remind me of the old Herbert Hoovers. We had the Great Depression — Hoover said let’s just wait it out. It got worse and worse.”
As of this writing, there are more than 1.27 million positive cases and over 76,000 virus-related deaths in the U.S., with over 177,000 recovered. Globally, there are over 3.9 million positive cases and in excess of 272,500 deaths, with more than 1.3 million recovered.