The town of Cromwell has taken steps to allow businesses that want to reopen to do so immediately, in opposition to Gov. Ned Lamont's executive orders and reopening plans.
In a meeting Wednesday, the town council voted 8-0 in favor of the decision, which will allow the town attorney to create a declaration allowing businesses in Cromwell that are willing and able to re-open immediately and to make a declaration to allow outdoor graduation. The declaration will be sent to the governor.
“The town attorney will create a declaration allowing businesses in Cromwell that are willingly and able to re-open immediately and to make a declaration to allow outdoor graduation," Mayor Enzo Faienza (R) said in the meeting.
After the meeting, Councilman James Demetriades (D) clarified that the declaration is a way to ask the governor to revisit the guidelines to allow small businesses to reopen. There will be another meeting to draft the declaration.
He added that the council discussed and agreed that they cannot open businesses in contradiction of an executive order.
"As a municipality we understand that we need to follow the law," he said.
Reopening has been a contentious issue across the country. Some expressed harsh criticism of Lamont's plans Monday when he changed the date for hair salons to reopen from May 20 to June 1, two days before the salons had anticipated reopening. It was then that Faienza called for a special town council meeting to discuss the town's options for reopening.
When questioned about Cromwell’s intentions before the vote Wednesday and how he intends to enforce the rules if individual towns will not, Lamont said overall, there hasn’t been great need for enforcement because people have followed the rules set in the name of safety.
“Let’s keep our discipline a little bit longer,” Lamont said.
He also said that customers should not visit businesses that are not following the guidelines, which were designed to protect public health during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a municipal responsibility to enforce these rules. These rules are not just to keep the store owners safe, the customer safe, the whole community safe,” Lamont said.
He also noted that while he wasn’t looking to send in state troopers to force businesses to comply, if towns won’t enforce the laws then he would consider getting state authorities involved, such as the Department of Consumer Protection or Department of Public Health.
Non-essential businesses have been closed since March. Wednesday marks the first day of Phase 1 of the state's reopening, which allows certain businesses to reopen with restrictions in place.