Update: On Monday Governor Lamont agreed with Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey on a common set of rules to reduce the spread of COVID-19 that begin at 8pm on Monday including closing bars and restaurants as of 8pm on Monday. The exception will be for takeout food.
Original Story: On Sunday, Governor Ned Lamont announced an executive order to close all schools in the state after Monday, and keep them closed through at least March 31.
“A vast majority of our schools, probably 90% have already closed or will be closed by Monday,” he said on Sunday in Hartford, adding that state employees are being told they should work with their managers or commissioners to find ways to telecommute so they can take care of children at home.
Still, he said emergency responders and healthcare employees don’t have that option.
“We’re trying to extend daycare to those folks on a priority basis,” he said.
Lamont said he would seek to expand unemployment compensation and offer paid medical leave.
“I don’t want anybody to have any second thoughts. If you feel ill, you feel you may not be right, you may have a flu, we want you to stay at home and make sure you have no disincentives to make sure you can’t stay at home,” he said.
On Sunday, several restaurants and bars on Greenwich Avenue were open. Mediterraneo’s tables were full at 7:30pm, while others had a sprinkling of patrons or none.
Several restaurants had signs on the doors explaining new policies, including MIKU Sushi, which has temporarily suspended dining for a minimum of two weeks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Today we will switch to a takeout and delivery style of service in order to safely accommodate our customers. It is important to note that no one at MIKU is sick, and this choice is about keeping everyone healthy.” – sign at MIKU Sushi posted Friday, March 13, 2020
Nearby Pastavera has a large sign saying the restaurant is offering curbside pickup.
Governor Lamont said that the practice of social distancing has been effective in other countries, but he noted that Connecticut is unique in its small size and decisions in neighboring states have impacts and vice versa.
Lamont said he is coordinating a response with with other Governors including Andrew Cuomo in New York for approaches to bars and restaurants.
“It doesn’t make sense for Connecticut to do something and not New York because otherwise people will just go over the border,” he said.
“We’re working closely with all our hospitals,” Lamont continued. “We have to make sure our hospitals are prepared for what could be coming. You see those photos coming out of Italy right now with a number of people, mainly older people, who have to go into the intensive care unit. We want to make sure we’re prepared for that. We have the ventilators. We have the masks. We are starting our delivery of 500,000 masks coming from the federal government. We’ve expanded our testing in a dramatic way as well.”
In an interview on Channel 12 Sunday night, Lamont said he is filing a disaster declaration with the Small Business Administration, “to help small businesses getting hammered right now.”
“It took the federal government a little while to catch up on this emergency, but not the governors,” he said. “Our hospitals are able to do some testing. …If you have shortness of breath and it’s not getting better, call your doctor. If your doctor gives you authorization we’ll get you tested….A lot of people flooding into the hospital is the worst thing you can do. We don’t want people who may be infected going into the hospital right now.”
The governor said mobile testing sites are getting up and running for people whose doctors orders them a test.
Lamont said Connecticut has been “way ahead of the curve” despite mixed messages from the federal government, “and hoaxes and things.”
“But the curve is moving fast,” he told John Craven on Channel 12.
“It’s a tough time and I know how anxious people are,” Lamont said, adding that while Apple Stores closed in the US a few days ago, but in China, just last week Apple reopened all their stores.
“People are getting back to work there,” he said.