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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.