As Connecticut moved into Phase 3 of its reopening Thursday, the state reported a new outbreak in New London and Governor Ned Lamont signaled he was considering a more localized approach to safety guidelines.
The new phase eases gathering restrictions on restaurants from 50% to 75% capacity and allows outdoor sports venues and indoor performing arts venues to open at 50%. Churches and other religious houses will also be allowed to open at 50% capacity.
While Connecticut’s rate of new infection remains relatively low at 1.4%, the move comes the same day as the Department of Public Health issued a COVID-19 alert for New London where 115 new cases were reported between Sept. 20 and Oct. 3.
In light of this outbreak and previous flare-ups in Danbury and Norwich, Governor Lamont said he expects to issue an executive order permitting towns with high infection rates to opt out of Phase 3 and reassert more restrictive safety rules.
“We’ve found that a lot of these flare-ups are sort of town by town,” Governor Lamont said during a Thursday press briefing. “So I think we’re going to make a decision over the next few days whether to give towns that discretion not to move to Phase 3, stay at 50%. Just like they’ve had the discretion to keep their schools open or move to all distance learning.”
For the time being, the whole state, including towns with high infection rates, has moved into Phase 3. Governor Lamont said he was considering drafting an executive order early next week that would apply to towns with a daily case rate of 15 or more per 100,000. He said he would leave the decision whether to scale back the reopening up to the town’s elected executive.
But the approach represents a departure for the governor, who has up until now preferred to set statewide policy with regard to the opening of businesses. He said early in the pandemic that a statewide approach was needed because so many businesses were completely closed.
Governor Lamont has said that he would consider halting Phase 3 for the entire state if Connecticut’s infection rate reached 4% or 5%. Since Wednesday, the state has seen 384 new cases and five new COVID-related deaths. Ten fewer people were hospitalized as a result of the virus in Connecticut: Lamont Considers More Local Control For COVID Hotspots