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May 2020

New Rules Govern Connecticut Businesses Planning for May 20 Reopening

On May 9, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont’s administration released rules for businesses under Phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening plans amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. The first phase, which includes offices, retail stores, restaurants, hair salons and barbershops, university research, outdoor recreation, and outdoor museums and zoos, is currently planned to take effect on May 20, 2020.

Connecticut’s plan to reopen the economy addresses two factors: (1) what businesses can open and when; and (2) how businesses must operate if they choose to open. Regarding the “what” factor, the state will prioritize opening businesses that pose a lower transmission risk and drive significant impacts to the economy. Concerning the “how” factor, the state will provide clear operational guidance to businesses on how to reopen while ensuring the safety of employees and customers, including continued social distancing and hygiene and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Currently, certain businesses in the state are already open including manufacturing, utilities, hospitals, construction, essential retail, real estate and childcare. As part of Connecticut’s initiative to gradually open its economy, additional businesses will start reopening when the state sees a 14-day decline in hospitalizations, have adequate testing capacity, have a contact tracing system in place, and have procedure sufficient PPE. The state anticipates the following businesses will reopen on May 20:

  • Offices (continue work from home where possible)
  • Restaurants (outdoor only; no bar areas)
  • Remaining retail/malls
  • Personal services (hair salons and barbershops)
  • Museums and zoos (outdoor only)
  • University research Outdoor recreation

The state has made clear that as it starts opening select businesses on May 20, it will open at its strictest controls on business operations and social interactions.  These measures will include:

  • Capacity limit of 50% for businesses that reopen
  • Strict cleaning and disinfection protocols in all settings
  • Those who can work from home should continue to do so
  • Those in high-risk groups (comorbidities) and >65 years old should continue to stay home
  • Facemasks should continue to be worn in public at all times
  • Social gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of five (5) people

The decision to open rests with each business, but if they do reopen they must follow the state’s rules. Additionally, all businesses subject to the rules will be required to self-certify prior to opening on May 20 via a certification system will be available online.

Lastly, in conjunction with the release of the rules, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman announced the formation of an ad hoc task force (Reopen Connecticut Small Business Implementation Task Force) that will provide support to small businesses regarding implementing these new rules.

As Connecticut sees progress on a defined set of public health metrics (to be released), it will gradually loosen safeguards, which will allow the next wave of businesses to open and potentially for businesses already open to operate with additional leeway. The state expects this to occur through September 2020.

Detailed and downloadable guidance for the above business sectors is located here.

Visit our COVID-19 Hub for ongoing updates.

Employment Law

Thomas C. Blatchley

Employment Law