Connecticut to lift most mandates on businesses, outdoor gatherings

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut plans to phase out many COVID-19 restrictions affecting businesses next month while keeping the mandatory indoor mask-wearing rules in place, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Monday.

The announcement came as the state surpassed 8,000 COVID-associated deaths.

Beginning May 1, outdoor restrictions will be lifted on businesses, such as mask-wearing when social distancing can’t be observed. Also, the rule that alcohol can’t be served without food will be lifted, essentially allowing outdoor bar service.

Additionally, table seating outdoors will no longer be limited to eight people and business curfews will be moved back to 12 a.m.

“I think these are all ways we have earned the right to get back to our new normal,” said Lamont, who urged people to still “continue to be cautious with the mask.”

Beginning May 19, all remaining business restrictions will end, including capacity limits on movie theaters. The state Department of Public Health will issue recommendations for the safe operation of indoor and large outdoor events, such as concerts and sporting events. The move comes about one year after the state begin the process of reopening after strict pandemic-related closures.

Lamont said the lifting of business restrictions is subject to a low infection rate and continued improvements in vaccination rates. If issues develop, he said the plan could change.

As of Monday, 1.1 million residents have been fully vaccinated. That figure accounts for 61% of people 18 years and older. Meanwhile, the state continues to see more infections. There were 2,700 more reported since Friday, while the number of hospitalizations increased by eight to 494. The number of deaths increased by 19 to a total of 8,014.

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