HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Ned Lamont has announced he’s lifting all COVID restrictions next month, with the exception of wearing masks indoors.

It’s the first state in the Tri-State Area to take this big step.

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As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reports, there are a mix of opinions about this big news in Connecticut, where the COVID positivity rate is under 3%. Lamont says he’s going to watch the numbers and the situation like a hawk, but he believes May is the time to open things back up.

On a beautiful spring day in Stamford, restaurant owner Giovanni Gentile has reason to smile. He’s just weeks away from nearly all COVID restrictions ending in Connecticut.

“Very good. Excellent,” Gentile said. “Everybody, customers are happy to go back to normality. I think we’re ready to go back to normal.”

“We have an 11 o’clock curfew, move that back a little bit to midnight. Gives restaurants an opportunity for a second seating, which they greatly appreciate. Makes us parallel to what’s going on in New York State, a certain symmetry there,” Lamont said Monday. “And outdoor restrictions lifted. Alcohol without food allowed. That sounds a little like a bar, where you can sit out and have a drink without necessarily having to have a meal right now. Strongly recommend being outside. I think May 1, you’re going to find it a lot warmer being able to do that outside. And no table size limits. We were capped at eight, and we’re going to lift that as well.”

Lamon announced he’s lifting all remaining COVID restriction by May 19, except for wearing masks inside – unless you’re vaccinated.

“These are all the ways that we’ve earned the right to get back to our new normal,” Lamont said.

The governor announced that on May 1, the business curfew will move back to 12 a.m., and outdoor restrictions will be lifted. That means customers can buy alcohol, without buying food. There will also be no table size limit. Assuming all goes well, Lamont says on May 19th, all remaining restrictions for all businesses and venues will end. There will be no more capacity limits indoors, or outdoors, and no mask requirement outside.

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Many Connecticut residents welcome the news.

“I think it’s long overdue,” one person said.

“Why shut the whole place down? It doesn’t make no sense,” said Norwalk resident Rex Francis.

Others are concerned it’s too much, too soon.

“You have to wear that mask,” said Stamford resident Elizabeth Bryant.

“You might want to wait for herd immunity before removing restrictions, I think,” said Pavan Kumar of Stamford.

Dr. Howie Forman, professor of public health at Yale University, says he’s cautiously optimistic about the governor’s decision, noting nearly half of Connecticut adults already have at least one dose of the vaccine.

“I think we have to show those people that there’s a benefit to being vaccinated, and that’s having a more open society,” Forman said. “I probably would’ve waited a few more weeks, but that doesn’t mean he’s not right. That just means I’m more risk averse.”

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Forman says relaxing mask mandates outside is a good place to start, since there’s low risk outdoors. Of course, this ease in restrictions is all subject to continued low incidence rates and increases in vaccinations.

Andrea Grymes