The state Department of Economic and Community Development's phase one reopening guidelines require businesses to self certify prior to the May 20 target date.

Released May 9, the industry sector-specific guidelines were developed by Gov. Ned Lamont, his office, and DECD officials, with recommendations from the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group.

The state's guidelines for offices include requirements for social distancing, face coverings, and supplying sanitizer and cleaning materials.

Lamont said the decision to reopen during phase one rests with individual business owners. Businesses are not required to open, but must follow the guidelines if they do.

All businesses subject to the guidelines must self-certify prior to opening May 20. The state's online certification system is expected to launch later this week.

[May 14 update: the state's online certification system is now live.]

The workplace guidelines require masks or cloth face coverings, capacity limits, social distancing, and regular cleaning and disinfecting at restaurants, offices, retail stores, and barber shops and hair salons that reopen May 20.

"May 20 might not look that different from May 19 in a lot of areas," DECD commissioner David Lehman said.

"Not all businesses are going to open on that date that can open, and not all consumers are going to be ready to consume those services on that date. This really comes down to choice."

Safeguards

The Lamont administration set the May 20 target date for reopening based on meeting seven criteria, including a 14-day reduction in hospitalization, increased testing, contact tracing capacity, availability of personal protective equipment, and the protection of vulnerable populations.

The reopening guidelines are based on a set of safeguards, with strict controls on business operations and social interaction. These include:

  • Capacity limit of 50% for businesses (based on local fire codes for respective workplaces) 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 over the age of 65 should continue to stay safe and stay home
  • Face masks should continue to be worn in public at all times
  • Social gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of five people

Businesses deemed essential by the state that have been allowed to remain open must follow the Connecticut Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers.

The state is monitoring a range of criteria for the May 20 phase one reopening of businesses.

Those rules largely mirror the reopening guidelines—including requiring masks or face coverings. Essential employers are not limited to 50% onsite employee capacity.

The state plans to monitor progress based on a set of defined public health metrics, with safeguards and controls loosened based on that progress.

If efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus are successful, additional businesses will be permitted to open and additional leeway given to those already allowed to operate.

This process is expected to continue through September, 2020.

Small Business Task Force

Lehman also announced an ad hoc task force May 9 create to help support small businesses implement the reopening guidelines.

CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan, who was among those appointed to the group, said many small businesses will face compliance obstacles.

"We recognize that certain aspects of these guidelines will be challenging for some businesses," he said.

"CBIA will work to refine these in the coming days to make sure they are practical and manageable for all businesses."

Sector Guidelines

Offices that reopen will be limited to 50% capacity, with desks spaced six feet apart, restrictions on elevator and other shared spaces, mandatory face coverings, staggered shift and break times, and cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Restaurants will be limited to outdoor operations at 50% capacity during phase one, with social distancing requirements, staggered shift and break times, mandatory masks or face coverings for staff, and cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Retail outlets and malls are also limited to 50% capacity and must provide physical barriers to protect staff and customers where social distancing cannot be maintained, with mandatory face coverings for staff and customers, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and closed fitting rooms.

Restaurants are limited to outdoor operations only.

Hair salons and barbershops can accept customers by appointment only, with no waiting areas, social distancing controls, mandatory face coverings for staff and customers, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

As with restaurants and retail outlets, the guidelines encourage hair salons and barbershops to use contactless payment methods.

Museums and zoos are limited to outdoor operations only and 50% capacity, with no interactive exhibits, social distancing controls, mandatory face coverings for staff and customers, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

All businesses are required to appoint an administrator to manage guideline implementation and compliance, train employees, develop cleaning plans, keep employee logs, conduct daily health checks, and post signs with the state's 211 number for reporting violations.

Filed Under: Connecticut Economy, Coronavirus
  • Ernie Addario

    there is no self certification form or test to be found where on gods green earth is it ???

    • CBIANews

      The state Department of Economic and Community Development said the online certification system will be available this coming week.

      • Ernie Addario

        Apparently there is a lot of must complies, must do, must fill out , must sign up , must supply … BUT nothing is ever ready or available !

        • CBIANews

          We hear you!

          • Not Ned

            SMH. Such a disappointing, embarrassing and insulting plan from our “Governor.” Many sources state the only way to stay safe is through distancing. Many businesses can’t distance to complete their work. Coincidentally those business are dense with individuals who didn’t qualify for unemployment and while they filed PPP early on, they were beat by the massive corps who used tricks to score millions. So instead of finding a way to really help these individuals, the state “oks” reopening so they can “get back to work.” What that really means is that they can’t be bothered to help the.

          • Debbie White

            PLease, please address Weddings and Social events. What each Phase may look like. We understand it’s a fluid situation and subject to change,but we need guidance in order to help our clients. All facets of the event industry are in limbo.

          • CBIANews

            We will share your issues with the state and work to ensure the concerns of the catering and event planning sector are addressed as quickly as possible.

        • Meaghan C Frank

          The Badge was not a MUST, but its recommended to do it and post it in your window and social media. 🙂

  • Where is this magical PPE supply? My employees are required to wear N95 masks per OSHA guidelines but we cannot get them anywhere. Tyvek suits? Same deal. We are an essential service but it’s getting harder and harder to provide that service.

  • Concerned Citizen

    How do these rules apply to businesses that have remained open, being essential?.Now after 8 weeks do our office personnel now have to wear face masks, and now do we have to limit to 50% capacity or are we excluded from these certifications and can we continue conducting business with the safeguards that have been in place weeks ago?

    • CBIANews

      Businesses deemed essential by the state that have been allowed to remain open must follow the Connecticut Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers. Those rules largely mirror the reopening guidelines, although essential employers are not limited to 50% onsite employee capacity.

      • Judy Knochenhauer

        Does this mean our essential business must now self-certify by May 20?

        • CBIANews

          We have asked the state Department of Economic and Community Development for clarification on this issue.

  • 1000 Ft Work Space

    What about small offices? We’re just five people. How can only half return?

    • CBIANews

      We are seeking additional clarification from the state on this issue.

    • CBIANews

      DECD says the 50% capacity restriction is based on the local fire code, not the number of employees.

  • S. Smith

    Dance studio with no more than 10 people in a room, all windows open and 6 feet apart using PPE. We would be “open air” not outside. We aren’t “social gathering” and not any of the others listed. Acceptable following protocols?

    • CBIANews

      It’s our understanding that dance studios, along with gyms and fitness centers, are not included in the businesses that are allowed to reopen on May 20. For specific guidance on your situation, we suggest you email or call the state’s small business COVID-19 hotline (COVID19.JIC@ct.gov; 860.500.2333).

  • Sctsmith

    For non-essential retail, may employers require employees to return to work, prior to May 20th, to clean and disinfect the store (along with other tasks not related to cleaning i.e. inventory)? If so, what safety measure must the employer take for protect the employees? Must they provide PPEs?

    • CBIANews

      Employers will be required to provide employees engaged in cleaning and disinfecting workplaces with appropriate PPE–as outlined by guidance produced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      • Sctsmith

        Okay, thank you. So requiring non-essential retail employees to return to work prior to May 20th is permissible?

        • CBIANews

          Yes, that is permissible. Gov. Lamont’s March 20 executive order closing onsite operations of nonessential businesses allows for “non-essential businesses and nonprofits to allow staff or third parties on site to the minimum extent necessary to provide security, maintenance, and receipt of mail and packages.” Cleaning and disinfecting are maintenance activities.

          • Sctsmith

            Thanks, again.

  • Timothy Dunne

    I am trying to find the link to the self certification for office cleaning and it is not easily found, IMHO.
    There is no live link to take the test.

    • CBIANews

      The state Department of Economic and Community Development hasn’t released the online certification system yet. We’ll provide a link as soon as they do.

      • Meaghan C Frank

        Why would they say you need to get this Reopen Badge and then NOT have the self-certification available?

  • Angela

    i’m confused where waxing salons fall in all of this??

    • CBIANews

      Based on the state’s guidance, it doesn’t appear waxing salons are included in the list of businesses allowed to reopen May 20. For specific guidance on your situation, we suggest you email or call the state’s small business COVID-19 hotline (COVID19.JIC@ct.gov; 860.500.2333).

  • We are an office of 10 people in a new office space rented with growth in mind. Therefore, we have ample space to have 100% of our staff present and can stay 15′ to 20′ apart. Would we have to only allow only 50% of the staff in the office at a time? We do not have visitors other than the occasional UPS and Fedex delivery person.

    • CBIANews

      We are seeking additional clarification from the state on this issue.

    • CBIANews

      DECD says the 50% capacity restriction is based on the local fire code, not the number of employees. Determine what your local fire code allows for your workplace and determine the number of staff allowed on site from that.

  • marissa

    when will be weddings be discussed?

    • CBIANews

      We are seeking clarification from the state for weddings and other events.

  • Johnny Lavoy

    How do you self certify, i see articles on it but no links that take you to the course or test .

    • CBIANews

      The state Department of Economic and Community Development hasn’t released the online certification system yet. We’ll provide a link as soon as they do.

  • Angela R

    where does Waxing salons fall? I have heard nothing of if they will be allowed to open as well

    • CBIANews

      It doesn’t appear waxing salons are included in the state’s list of businesses allowed to reopen May 20. For specific guidance on your situation, we suggest you email or call the state’s small business COVID-19 hotline (COVID19.JIC@ct.gov; 860.500.2333).

  • Walter Cappelli

    Hi,

    Wondering if anyone has any news on the self certification to achieve the Reopen CT Badge that needs to be completed. We can’t find it anywhere in the DECD website or anywhere else. We would appreciate any suggestions.
    Thank You

    • CBIANews

      DECD expects to launch the online certification system by the end of this week.

  • MPK

    In the CT Reopens CT sector rules, it includes opening outdoor recreation – does that include outdoor pools? Pools are considered recreation and it is outdoors?

    • CBIANews

      Good question, We’ll check with the state and see what we can find out.

  • Lynn Shea

    Hello. My question is. I’m self employed hair dresser. I rent a chair in a friend’s salon 3 days a week. I also am a hair dresser at a nursing home 2 days a week. . No employees .
    Do i have to get certified

    • CBIANews

      For specific guidance on your situation, we suggest you email or call the state’s small business COVID-19 hotline (COVID19.JIC@ct.gov; 860.500.2333).

  • Amanda S

    Do essential businesses need to self-certify before May 20th?

  • Sctsmith

    May an employer require an employee to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work?

    • CBIANews

      CBIA HR counsel Mark Soycher says the simple answer is that in most cases, yes you can, and if a worker refuses, you may decline to allow them to work. Given the absence of ready access to testing, there are other CDC recommended symptom-based criteria: (i) 72 hours fever free without mitigating medication; (ii) diminishing symptoms; and (iii) at least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms.
      For all other contexts, including as a regular/daily screening strategy for returning/reporting to work, Soycher says testing is not a practical approach for a number of reasons: availability of tests, costs, accuracy of results, delay in reporting results, and the limited time period that test results can be relied on.

  • jean

    my boss said her business was essential under guidelines( social model adult daycare). She closed in March and is reopening. What needs to be in place before employees go back?

    • CBIANews

      You should review the state’s Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers.
      We also suggest reviewing the general guidelines for nonessential businesses that could begin reopening May 20. While essential employers are not required to self-certify before reopening, there are important steps for cleaning and disinfecting, training employees, and signage.

      • jean

        Because its social model there is no one that monitors and checks in from the state to make sure rules are followed.

        • CBIANews

          Concerns can be shared through the state’s 211 hotline.

  • Ashley

    My employer feels the new guidelines aren’t new laws, so he isn’t required to abide by them. He still plans on allowing customers to try on merchandise, and is not willing to put up a barrier at the register. What should the employees do? Are there any consequences to not following the new guidelines?

  • Liz

    We self certified the other day on line. Didn’t get any response. Are we clear to open our business? Are we supposed to wait for a badge? Where do we get the signage that was referred to?

    • CBIANews

      We recommend you contact the state’s small business hotline (COVID19.JIC@ct.gov; 860.500.2333).