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With Connecticut’s reopening plan paused, here’s a look at what’s open and what’s still closed

Sonia Segarra stands for a temperature check by Jacob Drechsler, as Segarra and her daughter Aleida Lyon enter Lake Compounce Thursday, July 2, 2020, in Bristol.
Sonia Segarra stands for a temperature check by Jacob Drechsler, as Segarra and her daughter Aleida Lyon enter Lake Compounce Thursday, July 2, 2020, in Bristol. (Kassi Jackson/The Hartford Courant)

With coronavirus cases spiking in some parts of the country. Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that he’s pausing Connecticut’s reopening plan and maintaining the current rules indefinitely, instead of moving on to the next phase of reopening.

Lamont’s move was in lockstep with neighboring state New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy also paused his reopening plan after the state’s rate of coronavirus transmission jumped up. Connecticut has seen no such jump — for weeks, the state has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases.

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But with states such as Arizona, Florida and Texas spiking, Lamont said Monday that Connecticut is “erring on the side of caution.” The state had already created a list of states from which travelers must self-quarantine after arriving in Connecticut — and on Tuesday, Connecticut added three more state to that list, for a total of 19.

But for everyone in Connecticut, whether they’ve traveled recently or not, the state’s message of caution now also means that the reopening will not move forward as planned. Initially, Lamont had planned to move the state into the third phase on July 20. The third phase is likely to reopen bars and indoor venues, as well as expand the capacity of outdoor venues.

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Lamont has not said when the third phase may begin, although some gathering restrictions have already been eased. Here’s what’s open and closed now, under Lamont’s “paused” reopening.

Restaurants

Outdoor dining, which has been allowed since the first phase began on May 20, is still permitted so long as eateries follow certain restrictions such as thorough cleaning and properly spaced tables.

Indoor dining is also still permitted, but restaurants must keep their dining areas at no more than 50% capacity.

Although eateries are allowed to serve alcoholic beverages at table seating, they are not allowed to open their bar areas. Breweries, if they serve food, are permitted to open under the same rules as restaurants.

Bars

All bars, including bars inside restaurants and hotels, are required to remain closed during the reopening pause.

On Monday, Lamont said that bars are of particular concern, as other states have struggled to enforce safety measures in bars and states such as Arizona and Texas have re-closed all bars after initially reopening them.

In Michigan, the governor closed indoor bars in some parts after the state, after one bar became the hub for at least 140 coronavirus cases, The Associated Press reported. And a recent ranking from the Texas Medical Association placed “going to a bar” as the highest-risk activity for COVID-19 exposure.

Concerts and other events

Connecticut eased some of its gathering restrictions on July 3, just in time for Fourth of July fireworks. Those new guidelines, put in place between the second and third phases, will remain in place through the paused reopening.

Private gatherings are capped at 25 people indoors or 100 people outdoors, while organized outdoor gatherings such as fireworks and concerts can include up to 500 people. Those large outdoor events, however, must have at least 15 feet between each group of people.

And outdoor venues that have fire codes, such as race tracks and ampitheaters, must cap their audiences at 50% capacity.

Indoor concerts or events such as plays are still not permitted. Lamont and his administration have indicated that indoor venues would be allowed to open in the third phase, the Courant previously reported, although massive venues such as the XL Center are not likely to be given the green light.

Beaches and parks

State parks and state beaches are open and will remain open, although visitors must social distance and bring their own water. Visitors at beaches must also stay 15 feet away from other groups of people. The state also closed some state parks, including Kent Falls and Seaside in Waterford, after social distancing concerns.

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The state park campgrounds will fully reopen on Wednesday.

Some town beaches have reopened, while others are closed or only partially open. More information on town beaches can be found on the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend that residents avoid crowded parks and stay home if they are sick.

Gyms

Gyms, fitness centers and pools reopened in the second phase, which began June 17, and will be allowed to remain open during the pause. Under the state’s guidelines, gyms must follow safety protocols such as spreading out workout equipment, requiring customers to bring their own water bottles and cleaning shared equipment after every use. Gyms are also required to cap their workout spaces and indoor classes at 50% capacity.

Salons and barbershops

Hair salons and barbershops, which were allowed to open at the beginning of June, will remain open under their current restrictions — customers must be seen by appointment only, waiting rooms must remain closed and both the customers and the employees must wear masks.

Similarly, personal services such as nail salons and spas can remain open at 50% capacity and by appointment only. Any personal service that requires a customer to remove their mask is not yet permitted.

Retail

Connecticut reopened non-essential retail stores and malls in the first phase, which began May 20. Those will remain open during the pause, although customers and employees are still required to social distance and wear masks.

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The state’s retail guidelines don’t specify the maximum customer capacity for retail stores, but the state is limiting most businesses to 50% capacity.

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Offices

Office spaces have been allowed to reopen at 50% capacity since the first phase, which began May 20. But Lamont and his team have consistently said that employees should only return to the office if absolutely necessary and that all workers should continue to work from home at this time.

Schools

Lamont and his administration released a school reopening plan at the end of June, and that plan so far appears to be unaffected by the paused reopening.

The plan calls for public schools to fully reopen in the fall, but with some significant changes. The plan recommends that students remain six feet apart at all times, that staff clean classroom furniture multiple times per day and that students eat lunch in their classrooms instead of a cafeteria. Students and staff will also be required to wear masks throughout the day.

After the initial announcement, Lamont and education commissioner Miguel Cardona released a more detailed set of reopening guidelines, but educators have criticized the plan as non-specific and overly expensive.

This story has been updated.

Emily Brindley can be reached at ebrindley@courant.com.

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