Spring has Sprung: Connecticut Lifting Many COVID Restrictions this May


Connecticut Government

As vaccines are administered and warmer months approach, Connecticut prepares to loosen COVID-19 restrictions and reopen the state.

Charlotte Pfenning, Consumer Reviews Editor

As Connecticut welcomes spring and the weather begins to warm up, the state looks towards lifting many of the COVID restrictions that have been in place for the past year. With 61% of adults in Connecticut over 18 having received at least one dose of the vaccine, Connecticut is ranked second in the nation for the most vaccines administered per capita. As of April 2, any CT residents 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated. 

Effective May 1, outdoor restrictions will be lifted completely, according to a press release from Governor Lamont. This means bars that do not serve food can open for outdoor-only service, the 8-person table limit will be lifted outdoors, and the curfew for recreation venues, entertainment venues, theaters, and restaurants will be moved back to midnight. “I think we’ve earned May 1 as a time we can be outside,” Governor Lamont said on Monday. If this reopening goes smoothly, “[on] May 19 we can open up some more.” 

If low rates of infection continue and high numbers of people are still getting vaccinated, then on May 19, all remaining business restrictions, including indoors and outdoors, are set to be lifted. Lamont says that he is  going to “pass over the judgment [surrounding safety precautions] to the restaurants because they have pretty good judgment on how to [open and run business] safely.” 

The use of indoor face masks will continue, but it has not yet been decided if, after May 19, this will be a “requirement” or “recommendation.” Lamont added, “I think we’re going to mandate that you continue to wear the mask in school… Probably we’re going to require indoor masking a little longer, until you’re vaccinated.”

Governor Lamont says he is communicating with healthcare providers, but some medical experts are worried about the reopening, especially as the state surpasses 8,000 COVID-linked deaths. Dr. Ulysses Wu, the system director of infectious diseases at Hartford HealthCare, does not agree with dropping the social distancing requirement so soon; however, he does not dismiss the fact that there are ways to reopen safely. Yale New Haven Health’s medical director of infection prevention, Dr. Richard Martinello, agreed, saying he also has concerns about a lack of social distancing indoors. “I think that lack of physical distancing is going to be problematic if we continue to see levels of COVID in our community similar to what we have right now,” Martinello added. Both Wu and Martinello agree that there are pros and cons to reopening and lifting restrictions.

The news of reopening much of the state comes almost a year after Governor Lamont released the states reopening plans for phases two and three in May 2020. Phase Two began on June 17 and included indoor dining at restaurants, reopening of gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums, pools, and amusement parks. Connecticut remained in Phase Two for much of the summer as cases stayed low and many people enjoyed lots of time outdoors. On September 25, Lamont announced that the state would move to Phase Three on October 8. This phase allowed restaurants and barbershops to increase to 75% capacity and outdoor event venues and indoor performing art venues would be able to operate at 50% capacity. Indoor gatherings up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings up to 150 people were now allowed. 

However, as the colder weather moved into Connecticut and people were forced indoors, the state rolled back to Phase Two of reopening on November 6. Restaurants had to limit capacity to 50% and close indoor dining by 9:30 p.m. By November 10, restrictions were put in place to limit private indoor and outdoor gatherings to no more than 10 people and prohibited “state-define high-risk school sport activities” like wrestling and football. 

This strong correlation that the state saw between the summer and low COVID case numbers and the colder months and high COVID case numbers could play a role in Lamont’s decision to begin reopening this May. With CT vaccine rollouts continuing at a fast rate and the summer months approaching, Lamont’s team feels good about lifting restrictions and reopening the state. 

While the state’s cases, hospitalizations, and death are not as low as they were over the summer, many Connecticut residents are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.