CONNECTICUT — Wednesday marks the first day of Connecticut’s phase one reopening plan. Offices, retail stores, outdoor dining, outdoor museums and zoos are now open. The state has laid out strict rules for each sector that is reopening. The rules were developed by Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration and his reopening committee.
Less than 5 percent of coronavirus test samples came back positive in Tuesday’s batch; the result was the lowest ratio in months, Lamont said.
The state hit all of its targets for reopening. More than 50,000 tests are being run weekly, coronavirus hospitalizations are well under the state’s goal of 20 percent of capacity, and the contact tracing platform is being rolled out to health districts across the state. Still, it will ultimately be up to businesses to show customers they are taking the virus seriously by following guidelines, including cleaning and maintaining social distancing as much as possible.
In general, most of the reopening sectors have to maintain 50 percent or less of usual capacity. Face mask use is mandatory when social distancing can’t be achieved; the exception is if someone has a medical condition that makes mask use prohibitive.
Businesses will also have to stick to rigorous cleaning schedules and keep track of employee shifts in case contact tracing needs to be performed in the event of a positive coronavirus test. Contactless payment is encouraged whenever possible.
Employees will also have whistleblower protection if they raise concerns about COVID-related safety and health conditions.
Any employees who are able to continue telecommuting are encouraged to do so.
Employees and members of the public in general who are over the age of 65 or have preexisting conditions that could place them at greater risk for serious coronavirus complications are encouraged to continue to shelter at home.
Social gatherings will continue to be restricted to a maximum of five people.
Things that will remain closed for now
Off-track betting, indoor fitness and movie theaters will remain closed until at least June 20 per one of Gov. Ned Lamont’s recent executive orders. The same applies to indoor dining, despite a push from many in the state’s restaurant industry.
Summer school programs won’t be able to start until July 6. Day camps can start operating on June 22, but overnight camps will be prohibited.
Hair salons and barber shops will now open June 1. They are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity and by appointment only. Clients have to wear masks during the whole appointment and the stylist has to wear a mask and face shield. Shops also have to follow a strict cleaning regimen.
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See also: CT Town Moves To Defy Lamont’s Reopening Orders
Things that will be allowed to reopen May 20
Museums and zoos
Zoos and museums can open outdoor exhibits up to 50 percent capacity.
Interactive and indoor exhibits must stay closed. Gift shops and indoor food restaurants need to stay closed.
Outdoor food counters and snack bars can remain open, but are subject to the rules of outdoor dining.
There are to be no guided tours and employees shouldn’t share equipment if possible. Signage has to be posted to direct foot traffic in one-way floors when possible.
Many retail stores including home improvement stores were deemed essential by Gov. Ned Lamont and were never closed in the first place.
Remaining retail businesses and malls can open to 50 percent capacity. Stores should also consider designated hours for vulnerable shoppers including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Physical barriers have to be installed at checkout and contactless payment is encouraged. Fitting rooms are to remain closed
Employees and customers must wear face masks. Visual markers should be installed to encourage customers to stay at least six feet apart,
Increased outdoor ventilation is encouraged when possible. All indoor dining places are to remain closed. Outdoor dining is subject to rules of any restaurant during the phase one reopening.
Malls will have to increase security presence in order to break up or eject large congregations of people.
Employers are required to ask employees if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. Employees need to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms. Employees who test positive for the virus must notify their employer so contact tracing can be followed.
Outdoor dining will be permitted at 50 percent capacity. Bars will remain closed.
Reusable menus aren’t allow; instead restaurants can offer disposable paper menus, direct customers to access the menu on their phone or write menu options on a chalkboard or whiteboard.
Outdoor tables have to be spaced at least six feet apart.
Dance floors, pool tables, playgrounds and other non-essential amenities should remain closed. Buffers aren’t being allowed either. Only single-use condiments are to be used. Silverware should be rolled or packaged.
Offices can open at 50 percent capacity, but any employees that can continue to work from home should do so.
Workspace should be separated into discrete work zones and travel between zones should be limited as much as possible. Desks should be spaced at least six feet apart and disposable wipes should be placed near shared surfaces like printers and desks.
Employees must wear a face mask while in the office. Masks can be removed when employees are working alone in a segregated space like private offices or cubicles with walls. Those in an open office space would still have to use their masks.
Non-essential amenities like coat rooms should be closed and employees should bring their personal belongings to their workstations. Elevators shouldn’t be crowded and alternatives such as stair use should be encouraged when possible.
See also: Some Southern Connecticut Businesses Will Open, Some Won’t, Some Wish They Could
This article originally appeared on the Across Connecticut Patch