STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Connecticut entered Phase 3 of its coronavirus reopening plan on Thursday. It means the state is easing restrictions placed on businesses and gatherings.
Restaurants are now able to operate with an indoor capacity of up to 75%, CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported.
And while many of the business owners she spoke to are grateful for the easing of restrictions, some said they’ll bring about even more challenges.
At Lucky’s Classic Burger and Malt Shop, there were smiles all around.
“Not exactly business as usual, but it’s definitely better,” manager Spiro Stathopoulos said. “We’re excited for the opportunity.”
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The state’s Phase 3 guidelines mean indoor capacity has increased from 50% to 75% for restaurants, hair salons, barbershops and libraries.
Masks, social distancing and/or plastic barriers are required to separate patrons.
At Lucky’s, managers installed these plastic barriers to make sure they could safely place customers back to back.
“Just being able to get so much more people in the restaurant sitting down comfortably, not worrying about spacing issues,” Stathopoulos said.
But not all businesses feel ready to jump to 75% capacity.
Sweeney Todd’s Hair Design hasn’t decided yet if in such a small space it’s better to stick to fewer people in the salon or add dividers.
“We just want our clients and our staff to be safe. That’s our bottom line,” Bernadette Carrizzo said.
Under Phase 3, capacity for outdoor venues has also increased from 25% to 50%. Indoor performing art venues can now open at 50% capacity.
But Hartford Stage, a well known theatre in Hartford, plans to stay closed, saying it does not make sense financially to reopen right now.
“There’s no way .. if we actually keep people six feet apart we’re at less than 20% capacity. There’s also no way to keep people six feet apart backstage,” director Cynthia Rider said.
Rider added she isn’t sure audiences are ready to come back to indoor venues just yet.
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Connecticut has seen a steady increase in hospitalizations over the last month. There has also been more confirmed cases in the southeastern part of the state, though the state’s overall infection rate has been almost unchanged at 1.5% over the last week, Dhillon reported.
Meanwhile, customers said as long as everyone follows the rules, they’ll go back inside.
“If I see really good mask compliance, as I’ve seen at 50% by staff and patrons, meaning you wear a mask at bathroom, at table, I will feel comfortable,” David Robinov said.
“Connecticut is not bad, but that’s when we start letting down our guard and getting back to normal and it’s sometimes too early,” added Lee Parfrey of Greenwich.
The state has no enforcement mechanism for businesses – that is up to local governments – but is dispatching rapid response teams to areas with higher rates of virus cases.
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