Businesses that violate the state's COVID-19 sector rules and capacity limits could be fined up to $10,000 per violation, the governor's office announced Tuesday.
The new fine, declared by executive order, is a dramatic increase from the previous fine of $500. The order will go into effect on 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and is the result of feedback from local leaders, public health officials, and the business community, according to the governor's office.
“The sector rules and capacity limits we’ve implemented are intended to mitigate the spread of this disease to the greatest extent possible,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a media release. “While the overwhelming majority of businesses in Connecticut have shown an incredible amount of leadership and have been fantastic partners in this front, we have seen a small number of businesses in flagrant violation of these public health rules, and that’s all you need to cause a super-spreading event that leads to a large number of cases and hospitalizations."
Fines can be issued by local health directors or municipal designees, who will be supported by local law enforcement. Other fines for violating state rules include $500 for organizing an event over capacity limits, $250 for attending an event over capacity limits, $100 for failing to wear a face covering in public, and $500 for violating the state's travel advisory.
State officials said with the holiday season, specifically holiday shopping, about to get into full swing, they want to stress how important it is to follow public health protocols.
Gatherings at private homes, religious and spiritual gatherings, and graduations are subject to the fines listed above.
Public health officials have stressed that the public should not host large holiday gatherings, and instead celebrate in small groups, ideally made up of only those in your household. Connecticut has set a limit of 10 people for indoor gatherings.
House Republican Leader-elect Vincent Candelora criticized the order as another hit to an already struggling business community.
“This is a punch in the gut to the state’s business community, which for months has struggled with ever-changing and often confusing directives from the governor’s team. Scaring employers into compliance with the threat of a big fine isn’t what’s needed, and this path will only erode what little confidence they have in state government’s ability to help them through a period of recovery. What’s been missing all along is clarity from the governor, and a concrete plan to perform some actual enforcement. This decision fails to address those critical issues and, unfortunately, will leave many business owners feeling more vulnerable than ever," Candelora wrote in a statement.
See the full text of the executive order below.