A day after restaurants in Connecticut were allowed to open up for outdoor dining with limited capacity and social distancing, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the city is helping local businesses open, according to the state's guidelines, and showed the steps restaurants are doing it safely and responsibly.
Bronin said there have been 2,050 positive cases of COVID-19 in Hartford, which he attributed to low numbers of tests, and 143 COVID-19-related deaths.
"Our hearts are with everyone who has lost a loved one," Bronin said.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
He urged people to get tests and said there are nine permanent testing locations in Hartford as well as pop-up locations.
"We have seen tremendous progress when it comes to access to testing," Bronin said.
"You don't need insurance. You don't need a prescription. You don't need to have symptoms," Bronin said.
He urged people who need a ride to call 311.
"We want everybody to get tested. It's about your health, your loved ones's health and the health of your whole community," Bronin added.
The state set up phases of reopening Connecticut businesses and the first phase started on Wednesday.
Restaurants that already have outdoor space permits, do not need to participate in this process. Restaurants that have outdoor space near the restaurant, even parking spaces, will need to request a permit.
The city will work with the Hartford Parking Authority to approve restaurants' permits if they want to use parking spaces in front of or by the restaurant.
Jordan Dikegoros, owner of J Restaurant and Bar
Bronin said for restaurants that do not have available outdoor space, the city is willing to consider proposals to use other public or private spaces for outdoor service, even including looking at closing streets.
"We have tried to be quick and at the forefront of how we can loosen restrictions on outdoor dining," Bronin said.
The only non-starters are requests that violate the governor's executive orders or endanger the public health, the mayor said.