The committee that has been advising the governor on ways to reopen businesses in Connecticut gave a glimpse today of how they are deciding which businesses can reopen when, based on health risks and economic impact.
The committee that has been working on a plan to reopen the state’s businesses met virtually for a round table discussion this morning on the impact of COVID-19 on the local business community.
There said there are several public health and economic indicators that go into reopening plans.
The health indicators include probability of contact, the length of contact, the number of contact, disinfection and social distancing.
Economic indicators include GDP, the number of businesses, the total employment and unemployment claims.
The five guiding principles, they said, are putting the public health first, being science driven, to ensure that PPE and hospital beds are available as well as that individual businesses can choose whether to open.
Face masks and face coverings with be requires at all times in public, except while eating at restaurants, gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people and residents 65 years or older or with high risk factors are encouraged to stay home.
Businesses that can open can only be at 50 percent capacity, they will have to rearrange the physical space to maintain a 6-foot distance and they will have to make hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes available.
Some businesses are expected to be able to reopen next week, on May 20. The state has launched a CT Business and Reopening and Recovery Center that allow businesses to see if they are eligible and to self-certify.
During the round table discussion, Joe Brennan, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said businesses need to be following guidelines, employees and customers need to follow the rules and it will be incumbent on everyone to follow the guidelines to make the opening work.
Meredith Reuben, CEO of EBP Supply Solutions, services healthcare and other industries, and said cleaning is very important at this time and urged companies to clean and disinfect more than they did in the past.
She urged companies to close bathrooms to allow for deep cleaning and to thoroughly disinfect high-touch areas.
She also mentioned that some contractors are training to clean amid COVID.
Restaurants will be open on May 20 to offer some outdoor dining options and Dan Meiser, chairman of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said they have been working for weeks to get ready to open, but that will not be feasible for several restaurants.
Restaurants, he said, are the backbone of many communities and they have been hit hard, so they are finding the balance of opening as soon as possible and as safely as possible.
However, many restaurants don’t feel the outdoor dining opening is feasible because of weather and/or the lack of patio areas in some area,
He said they feel strongly about having control to offer limited indoor dining, possibly on June 3,
“We are confident with thorough controlled, safe, best practices, that we could accomplish that,” Meiser said.
During his briefing on Wednesday evening, Gov. Ned Lamont said that he expects Phase 2 of the reopening plan to come around June 20.
He did not list what businesses would be allowed to reopen on that date but suggested he might want to see some indoor dining at restaurants by that date.
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The state Department of Labor said it has received more than 504,000 unemployment claim applications amid the COVID-19 pandemic and paid out more than $1.27 billion in benefits since the pandemic began to affect the state: $511 million in state benefits; $755.6 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation; and $7.7 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Of the claim applications received, 457,000 have been processed.