State Releases New COVID-19 Business Operating Guidelines

03.13.2021
Economy

The state Department of Economic and Community Development has posted new business operating guidelines that begin taking effect from March 19.

DECD shared the updated guidance March 12, with the state transitioning to encouraging compliance with most COVID-19 rules and restrictions rather than mandating and enforcing them.

The agency says the new guidance “should be treated as recommended best practices.”

The updates supersede any conflicting recommendations in the previously published guidance for specific industry sectors.

Restrictions

The state will continue to mandate capacity limits, although most businesses can operate at 100% from March 19.

There are also specific mandates that still must be followed by some sectors, including restaurants and event venues.

Alcohol can only be served in establishments that serve food and the 11 pm curfew for restaurants will remain in effect.

Masks continue to be mandated for all public settings where social distancing is not possible.

Indoor gatherings at commercial venues remain at 50% capacity, as do movie theaters, and outdoor venues can operate at that limit from April 2. Outdoor amusements parks can open at full capacity the same day while indoor stadiums will be capped at 10%.

Six-foot spacing and social distancing will be required where possible, unless noted, and masks continue to be mandated for all public settings where social distancing is not possible.

Businesses retain the right to refuse service to customers not wearing masks and all companies must continue to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.

Recommended Practices

The state is now encouraging businesses and organizations to continue following these practices:

  • Support local public health contact tracing efforts, such as maintaining a log of employees on-premises over time.
  • Encourage employees to stay home when sick and work from home when possible. In the event of a positive COVID-19 case, employees shall inform their employers and follow state testing and contact tracing protocols.
  • Use social distance markers, signage, and one-way traffic.
  • Facilities should work to increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system where possible, or use window units.
  • Post clear signage that includes the state hotline (211) for employees and customers to report potential violations of these rules.

Baseline Precautions

DECD posted the following note on its website:

Please keep in mind that it is the cumulative effects gained from social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing that will continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses should take these rules as the minimum baseline of precautions needed to protect public health in Connecticut and refer to the recommended guidance by sector listed at the bottom of this page for best practices.

Individual establishments should also take additional measures as recommended by industry experts or by common sense applied to their particular situation.

‘Cautious Approach’

CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said while the organization welcomed the state’s new guidance, employers should continue taking a cautious approach to operations.

“This is another welcome step in the state’s path to full recovery and a reflection of the way we have managed the public health crisis,” DiPentima said.

“It was a year ago this week that the world came to a grinding halt. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time.

“Our economic recovery is fragile and I urge businesses to remain cautious and continue safeguarding their employees.”

CBIA’s Chris DiPentima

“However, as the just-released 2020 employment revisions show, our economic recovery is fragile and I urge businesses to remain cautious and continue safeguarding their employees and families and their clients, customers, and vendors.”

Gov. Ned Lamont announced earlier this month that he was planning to ease business restrictions.

He will also modify Connecticut’s travel advisory March 19. It’s expected those rules will now recommend, but not require, that people arriving from other states quarantine for 10 days.

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