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CT casinos move start of reopening process up; Lamont issues guidance for houses of worship

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The state’s two casinos will not be reopening on June 1, as Gov. Ned Lamont has hoped.
Instead, they will begin to reopen May 30.

That news, which Lamont announced at the start of his daily briefing, somewhat overshadowed the main purpose of Friday’s appearance: The rolling out of guidance for houses of worship.

The governor later clarified that Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun will be undertaking “preliminary” opening procedures starting tomorrow, and that they will reopen “for real” on Monday. Both operations’ websites still state that they will reopen on June 1, with Mohegan Sun saying it will host a private opening event for specially invited guests tomorrow.

Saying that his administration had made “some progress with our friends at the casinos,” Lamont offered as evidence that the casinos have declared they will not allow anyone from out of state to stay at their hotels through Phase 1 of the reopening; that everyone will be required to wear masks at most times; and that at least one casino had said smoking will not be allowed.

Lamont said he had “not gotten a positive response” to the state’s request that no alcohol be served. Instead, patrons will be limited to two, rather than the customary three, drinks per hour.

Dining will be allowed only outside through at least June 20 – the prospective launch date of Phase 2 – and the casinos have promised to provide a health advisory to each person coming in. If their verbiage is deemed insufficient, Lamont said the state would place  electronic signs near the casinos to warn of the health risks.

Easing some recommendations
The governor further said that gatherings at one’s home, previously recommended to not exceed five, are now capped at 10 inside and up to 25 outside, as long as proper social distancing measures are observed.

Lamont was joined by several leaders representing a variety of faiths, including Christian, Islam and Sikh; due to today being part of the Shavuot holiday, no Jewish leaders were in attendance.

Houses of worship will be allowed 100 visitors, or no more than 25% capacity, whichever is less. Outdoor services can be attended by up to 150, as long as proper social distancing is maintained.

Steele

The religious leaders in attendance each voiced their approval of the new guidance. Rev. Kelcy Steele, pastor at New Haven’s Varick Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, also decried what he called “Racism 45” – a reference to Donald Trump, the nation’s 45th president – which he said played a direct part in the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer. That officer was taken into custody this afternoon.

Steele connected the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic with what he called a “resurgence of racism,” saying that the current White House administration has made it “all right to parade prejudice even if you have a badge.”

State statistics
The Connecticut Department of Health is not expected to release its latest coronavirus numbers until later today, but Lamont said that the state had recorded one of its largest single-day drops in hospitalizations – 71 – which would bring that total to 577.

As of yesterday, there were 235,525 coronavirus tests performed, which had yielded 41,559 positive cases. The state has recorded 3,826 deaths from the virus. Fairfield County had 15,353 positive cases, 211 hospitalizations, and 1,246 deaths.

As of yesterday, Bridgeport had 3,273 cases, followed by Stamford (3,083), New Haven (2,407), Hartford (2,215), Norwalk (1,972), Waterbury (1,844), Danbury (1,758), West Haven (1,018), New Britain (938), Hamden (935), East Hartford (782), Greenwich (772), and Stratford (776).

The numbers
As of this writing, there are over 1.72 million positive cases and more than 101,500 virus-related deaths in the U.S., with over 379,000 recovered. Globally, there are over 5.8 million positive cases and more than 361,000 deaths, with about 2.4 million recovered.

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