Some establishments already require proof of vaccination before entry. Now, there will a new way to provide that information in Connecticut: a digital health ID.
The technology is similar to vaccine passports used in other states. Governor Ned Lamont announced Friday that it will be in Connecticut by the end of the year.
The governor said this is a new tool available to local businesses, but using it will not be a mandate.
"What I want to do is get that digital health card, make it available to every single business, restaurant, store, let them make the right decision in terms of allowing people into their facility," Lamont said.
The governor is expecting to see interest from retailers and restaurants that were hit hard during lockdown.
At Music & Arts in West Hartford, sales representative Pete Borzellino does not know yet whether the store will make use of the technology, but thinks it will provide convenience.
“It’s just going to be a little bit easier to track," Borzellino said. "It is easy to lose things, I lost my card not too long ago.”
His customer, Frank Bonavento, agrees.
“It sounds like ease of access more than anything," Bonavento said.
Lamont's announcement comes as New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday that all public places that do not require proof of full vaccination must require masks come Monday.
However, Lamont said he does not plan to implement new statewide mandates.
"You voluntarily get the digital health card and stores voluntarily use it as they see fit," he said.
Nonetheless, the co-owner of Powerhouse Super Gym in Berlin has concerns, saying the gym took a big financial hit during lockdown. Jack Banks worries this could lead to regulations.
“Even though it’s starting as something that’s voluntary, many things have started as voluntary and they all the sudden become mandated. And I fear the slippery slope," Banks said.
Eric Gjede with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association sees this as a way for people to feel more comfortable shopping local during the holiday season.
“We really do not want to see any more restrictions placed on businesses," Gjede said. "But businesses can choose whether or not they want to use it, and they're going to be able to provide a little bit of extra peace of mind to other patrons.”
Lamont said the digital vaccine verification system could be rolled out on a regional basis in partnership with Massachusetts and Rhode Island.