Lamont Announces Phase 3 Business Changes As Temps Cool: Restaurant Indoor Dining Upped to 75% Capacity

On Thursday Governor Ned Lamont announced the Phase 3 reopening of Connecticut’s economy in the backdrop of the global pandemic.

The news is good for Connecticut residents as the state’s Covid-19 numbers remain low even though there was a small uptick last week.

“Phase 3 is coming about because Connecticut has earned it in terms of being able to maintain our low infection rates,” Lamont said during his Thursday press conference.

“A, led by public health and the metrics. And second, we have to rethink as the weather gets colder,” he said.

Lamont recalled how in Phase 1 and 2 encouraged outdoor dining and venues.

“A lot of those restaurants, maybe most of them, were able to get some capacity outside. I think a lot of people felt more comfortable eating outside,” he said.

He said since the weather is getting a little colder, the timing makes sense, and, “We’ve earned the right to do this.”

Changes go into effect on Oct 8, which is a little more than two weeks away.

Capacity for indoor dining will increase from 50% to 75%.

Personal services such as hair and nail salons, and barber shops will be upped to 75% capacity, as well as libraries upped to 75% capacity – all subject to the appropriate safety requirements, including social distancing, masks, and plexiglass partitions when 6 ft distancing is not possible.

“We’ve watched this carefully, and it’s been pretty successful, and hasn’t resulted in any spikes,” Lamont said. “I think this is something we ought to be ready to do.”

Outdoor event venues will increase from 25% of capacity to 50% capacity.

Ampitheaters, such as soccer stadiums and racetracks, are outdoor events that he said earned a bit more capacity, given masks and social distancing.

The governor said indoor performing arts venues are a more complicated situation, but will be allowed to open at 50% capacity.

“They can’t open at less than 50% capacity – the economics just don’t work,” he said, adding that the state will be very strict and, “If we have to change course we will.”

And, finally, he said, “Bars and night clubs remain closed for reasons I think most people understand.”

“Very soon, we’d like to think by the end of this year, we’ll see the vaccine and have the five minute testing and be in a different position then,” Lamont said.

David Lehman, the Governor’s Senior Economic Advisor, said in addition to business changes, social gathering sizes will be changed incrementally in Phase 3.

Private social and recreational gatherings, such as weddings and corporate events, which were previously capped at 25 people indoors, will be increased to 50% capacity, but capped at 100 people, assuming the event is held in a commercial establishment.

“If it’s a private residence or a house party, it will continue to be capped at 25 people,” Lehman said. “Outdoors it will go up from 100 to 150 people for private social and recreational events.”

Limits on graduations and religious gatherings are also due to change.

Currently graduations are not allowed indoors, but in Phase 3, both graduations and religious events, indoors, will be capped at 50% capacity, with a max of 200 – with masks and social distancing. (For religious gathering sites, that is an increase from 100 cap at 25% capacity.)

Lastly, for outdoors, realizing there is just a month or two left in the outdoor season, there will be uncapped events for graduations and religious gatherings.