At a press conference on Monday, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced that because Connecticut was seeing a steady increase in Covid-19 cases, the entire state will roll back to Phase 2, effective midnight on Friday.
He shared the daily summary numbers for the previous three days.
There were 2,651 new cases, 11 fatalities and 11 more people hospitalized.
“There’s no mistake about it,” he said. “The trend line is continuing to trend up.”
Lamont said the main priority will be slowing community spread.
He said just a few weeks ago, the idea was to target responses town-by-town, keeping keep flare ups from becoming wildfires.
“Rather than think about how we respond now on a community-by-community basis, I’m thinking more about how we respond on a statewide basis and,” Lamont said, adding that he would coordinate with New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“What good is it to say our restaurants are going to have to close at 9:30pm when they stay open til midnight?” he asked.
Asked to clarify, Lamont said New York never opened their restaurants past 25% capacity.
“At 50%, we’ve already exceeded where they are right now,” he said.
Lamont said the rollback was more in conjunction with MA and RI.
“Perhaps this is getting us more in line with New York,” said Commissioner Lehman. “We do expect RI to announce something similar this week.”
As for anticipating health care capacity, he said that must be balanced with necessary procedures that require hospitalization, including non-Covid hospitalizations that had been put off last spring.
Keeping schools and childcare open will remain a priority.
“That’s been a real priority for me,” he said. “Social and emotional well being, and schools being an early radar for depression, addiction and other symptoms related to Covid.”
He noted that Europe was 2-3 weeks ahead of the US in the pandemic, and had moved to lock down in many cases in order to keep schools open.
“The understanding in France, Germany and Britain how important that is,” he said.
“It’s worth noting that our universities are open and doing very well,” Lamont continued. “That’s not true in California and other places that closed down their universities.”
“We always anticipated there would be a surge at some point, in November, and colleges, thoughtfully, always anticipated keeping open as long as they could – maybe until Thanksgiving break and then maybe take a break and come back in January or February.”
On the topic of sports, Lamont said Connecticut is in discussions with RI, MA and other neighboring states.
“As we think about ways to keep our schools open and hopefully maintain sports – maybe not a lot of the interstate competition back and forth since that’s proven to be risky,” he said.
Finally, he said, a priority will be to minimize the economic impact to the economy and Connecticut’s families.
“We have more of our economy and more of our GDP open than anybody else in the region, at about 88%,” he said. “That’s good news, helping our budget and helping a lot of families. It’s the service economy that’s a little less impacted by GDP. That can really impact families and employment.”
Mandatory changes that go into effect on Friday in association with RI and MA include moving restaurants from75% capacity back to 50% capacity.
“We did worry that there were some tables that had an awful lot of people at them,” he said. “There were tables acting like parties and less like a restaurant, so we’ll limit to 8 people per table at restaurants.”
Secondly, we want restaurants that serve alcohol, to close by 9:30pm, same as CT’s neighboring states.
“The reason being that at a certain hour, some of restaurants start acting like bars,” Lamont said.
Personal services were at 75% capacity, and we think they can stay at 75%.
“They’ve made enormous efforts. People are wearing masks. They got the plexiglass. They’ve been able to maintain the distancing and I think they’ve not been the source of spread.”
As for event venues, the limit will return to 25 indoor and 50 outdoor.
“Right now people without a mask, even at an outdoor catered event are considered just too risky. Our neighbors are saying the same thing.”
As for religious gatherings, Lamont said that moving into the holiday season with Covid, people are needing the faith community more than ever, but to do it safely, capacity will be maximized at 50% – or 100 people.
“We’ll really emphasize the virtual worship services, especially for your elder parishioners,” he said.
Lamont beseeched employers to let employees work from home where possible, make accommodations, and postpone non-essential travel.
For those over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions, he suggested, “Stay close to home.”
“If you have to ask, wear the mask,” he said. “There is no more important recommendation that we can make.”
“We are putting in these restrictions on a statewide basis now, to make sure that we don’t have to do more severe things later,” Lamont said.
“Acting now is appropriate to avoid the larger shutdown later,” said David Lehman, commissioner of Economic and Community Development.”We’re watching closely what’s happening in Europe, and we want to avoid it.”
Asked about a recent situation at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven where college students gathered to party, Lamont gave a shout out to Bridgeport and New Haven officials who closed down establishment for the “near term.”
“They can be fined as needed,” he continued, adding that his chief of staff, Paul Mounds was working with the Dept of Consumer Protection to explore consequences for liquor licenses.
“You can ruin it for everybody by not enforcing these rules,” he said.
The State Dept of Public Health recommends people stay home from 10:00pm to 5:00am.
“As we see infections rising in Connecticut, the chance of someone you are socializing with having an infection that has no symptoms is getting higher,” said Deirdre Gifford, Acting Commissioner CT Dept of Pubic Health. “We can limit the time we spend with persons outside our households – that will help decrease infections.”
Asked about the possibility of unrest on Tuesday, Election Day, or later this week, Lamont said the state was monitoring social media.
He said he had spoken to Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) James Rovella earlier in the day.
“They’re monitoring social media closely,” he said. “They’re there just in case. I see what’s going on in New York and preventive measures. That’s not going to happen in Connecticut. We’re going to respect the power of the vote and respect decisions.”