The State of Connecticut is moving into Phase 2 of the reopening plan and that will mean several businesses will be operating with a new normal.
Phase 2 includes amusement parks, hotels, nail salons, driving schools, among other businesses. A full list of businesses allowed to reopen in phase two can be viewed here.
Some businesses are hoping the second phase will also bring a new wave of tourism to the state, helping an industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic.
"To lose our entire spring season and all of our spring events, it has been challenging," said Amanda Arling, President of the Whaler's Inn in Downtown Mystic. "But the end is within sight and we are looking forward to a great season.”
After an unprecedented three month closure, the Whaler's Inn is preparing to host guests again on June 18. Arling said that they are fully booked for the first weekend back.
"We are seeing a lot of staycationers. People from Connecticut and the surrounding areas that are just looking forward to getting away for a night or a weekend," Arling said.
It is a trend that Josephine Guarnaccia, owner of Mermaid Inn, a bed and breakfast in Mystic, is seeing as well. She is also reopening, taking her first guest on Wednesday.
While some guests have canceled their stays because of event cancellations, she is anticipating new guests booking for more last-minute stays. She said that she has already heard from people who want to travel and get away, but stay closer to home because of the pandemic.
"I am optimistic," Guarnaccia said. "The mentality of the traveler is changing."
Now that short term rentals, B&Bs, and hotels are allowed to take guests again, the state's tourism office is launching a campaign to help the tourism industry. The $1.2 million "So Good to See You" campaign will run from June 22 until Labor Day, targeting residents in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
"It is time to start reinvigorating the industry," said Randy Fiveash, Director of Tourism for the state.
According to Fiveash, the goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of all Connecticut has to offer for day trips and overnight stays and to drive revenues to businesses as they reopen. Fiveash said that while people are eager to travel, the campaign will only work if people are assured that it is safe for them to do so.
At The Whaler's Inn, Arling said that safety is their top priority. Safety changes include contactless entrances, mandatory masks, curbside check-in, plastic barriers, and hand sanitizers at every door.
According to Arling, the hotel also hired a company to apply a permanent disinfecting spray to all surfaces. She said that the hotel staff will maintain their usual strict cleaning policies, but will add new practices like using a UV light to detect germs. All soft goods will be removed and replaced before the next guest.
"We have taken the guidelines from the state, the federal government, and the CDC and we have actually taken that to the next level," said Arling.
A stay at the Mermaid Inn will also look different. Guarnaccia is stepping up cleaning practices, disinfecting all touchpoints after each stay, and is spacing out room stays when possible. Guests are reminded to wear masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are available throughout the property, and the common areas have been reorganized to maintain distancing.
Guarnaccia is changing the way she serves guests food and how she interacts with guests. All safety protocols are posted on a message board for guests. Guarnaccia will also not be able to enter a room when guests are inside.
She said that she is taking it step by step to ensure safety and is excited to get back to work.
"I think you really have to be cautious about it," said Guarnaccia.
To view the full list of state reopening recommendations for hotel and lodging, click here.