Effective Monday night, Gov. Ned Lamont has ordered all Connecticut residents to wear masks or similar protection in public and shared spaces unless prevented by medical or equivalent reasons.
This mandate is included in the 28th executive order issued by the governor since declaring a state of emergency across Connecticut on March 10, in the process radically altering business and daily life in the state in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Last month, the governor ordered the cancellation of classes at all public schools effective March 17, and more recent orders have extended that closure until May 20, unless further modified by the governor.
Lamont’s first order, signed March 12, waived a requirement that school districts stay in session for at least 180 days in the academic year and also introduced restrictions on the size of social and recreational gatherings.
Since then, social gatherings have been further limited to 5 people — or 50 for religious services so long as they “employ reasonable and appropriate distancing measures” — until May 20. This order did not apply to government operations, retail spaces, private workplaces, and other gatherings not considered social or recreational.
The governor’s April 17 order directs people in Connecticut to wear masks or face coverings in public places where it is not possible to maintain six feet of social distance. The order does not apply to anyone who cannot wear a mask for reasons of health or safety, including medical conditions, and the order states that no one shall be required to produce documentation proving such a condition.
CT Examiner reviewed all of the governor’s executive orders from March 10 to April 19. Below are some of the most significant effects of those orders in their most up-to-date form, organized by category.
Many of the closures outlined in the orders were set to last until May 20 unless again modified by the governor.
Businesses and public spaces
- In three orders spread over less than a week starting March 16, the governor ordered the closing of gyms, fitness and recreation facilities, movie theaters, large shopping malls, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, bowling alleys, other “places of public amusement,” barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors and related cosmetology businesses.
- Also on March 16, the governor ordered the suspension of sit down dining for restaurants and bars. Later executive orders allowed restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages with takeout orders and the delivery of alcoholic beverages under certain conditions.
- Effective March 23, Lamont ordered all nonessential businesses and nonprofits to transition employees to working from home or telecommuting “to the maximum extent possible.” A later order mandated that nonessential businesses were to keep staff to the “minimum extent necessary to provide security, maintenance, and receipt of mail and packages, or other services deemed essential in implementing guidance issued by the Department of Economic and Community Development.” Nonessential retailers are allowed to take customer orders remotely — by phone, internet, mail, or dropbox — and provide delivery or curbside pickup.
- Effective April 2, the governor prohibited bookings of hotels, short-term rentals, and other forms of lodging for leisure and recreation. These spaces can still be rented by essential workers, people who are self-quarantining, people escaping domestic violence and a few other circumstances.
Aid for people in economic hardship
- Orders issued by Lamont on April 1 and April 9 created two programs giving deadline extension or relief from interest on local property taxes and ordered towns to enter into at least one of these programs.
- The governor’s April 10 order forbade landlords from initiating an eviction process of a tenant for anything other than a “serious nuisance” until July 1. It also granted an automatic 60-day grace period on rent payments due in April and granted a similar 60-day grace period upon request for rent payments due in May.
Local government and democracy
- The governor postponed the state’s presidential primary twice — it is now scheduled for August 11 and will be incorporated into the primary for state legislative, congressional, local and other offices.
- A requirement that public meetings be held in person was suspended, allowing public boards and commissions to meet by teleconference with provisions for public access.
- In a March 21 order, any municipality that would typically have an annual budget proposal approved by voters at referendum or town meeting can bypass that process for the 2020-21 budget. Other orders gave towns and regional school districts an additional 30 days to approve the budgets.
- On March 30, the governor ordered childcare facilities to have no more than 10 children in one space and required that any facility seeking to care for more than 30 children receive approval from the state commissioner of early childhood to verify that they were practicing safe procedures. The same order also required workers at these facilities to be screened for signs of illness and enhance their practices for cleaning and preventing the spread of the virus.
- In an additional order on April 2, the state’s commissioner of early childhood was given the authority to suspend certain parts of state statute and regulations where “she deems necessary to maintain a sufficient capacity of child care services or stabilize child care providers during this public health and civil preparedness emergency.”