coronavirus in connecticut

Phase 2 of Reopening State Could Come on June 20: Lamont

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Just one week out from the May 20 date to begin Phase 1 of Connecticut's reopening plan, the state saw another day with a decline in the net COVID-related hospitalizations on Wednesday.

The drop of 31 hospitalized patients continues a nearly three-week downward trend in hospitalizations, a metric Gov. Ned Lamont has pointed to as key to beginning the reopening process.

The state saw 522 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 34,855. There were 84 new fatalities. The death toll in Connecticut now stands at 3,125.

The governor was joined by State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) at his briefing on Wednesday afternoon. Both lawmakers are also small business owners.

Phase 2?

Gov. Lamont said he expected June 20 as a target date for Phase 2 of the reopening plan.

He did not list what businesses would be allowed to reopen on that date but suggested he might want to see some indoor dining at restaurants by that date.

Earlier on Wednesday, a group of business leaders sent a letter to the governor asking him to consider a plan to allow restaurants to begin indoor dining at 50-percent capacity beginning on June 3.

When asked about the proposal, Lamont said he wanted to err on the side of caution when it comes to indoor dining.

When asked what other businesses might be a part of the Phase 2 reopening, Lamont said gyms were a possibility.

He said he would look to events that could be held outdoors, such as weddings or even graduations.

Connecticut's Casinos

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have been closed since mid-March.

Both of the tribes that run the casinos have said they are working on plans to reopen. The casinos are built on sovereign land, and therefore don't have to abide by the governor's executive orders.

Lamont said he has been talking with the tribes about their plans and said Wednesday he thinks any reopening of the casinos in June would be premature.

He said the casinos would likely attract people from out of state, something he is discouraging during the pandemic. He also said the resort casinos would also attract people 65 and older, and as a vulnerable population, it wouldn't be a good idea to have those people in a crowded environment like a casino.

Plastic Bag Tax

Gov. Lamont suspended the state's plastic bag tax by executive order just after the pandemic began in Connecticut. On Wednesday, he said the tax would be reinstated.

"That tax will come back over time," said Paul Mounds, chief-of-staff for Gov. Lamont. "We are working with the industry and the environmentalists on it."

For the time being, the suspension of the tax has been extended through June 30.

Gov. Lamont's Test Results

Gov. Lamont was tested for coronavirus on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he revealed the test came back negative. He said he decided to get tested because there was a greater availability of tests, and not because he was showing any type of COVID-related symptoms.

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