Connecticut readies for further loosening of COVID-19 restrictions Saturday

Connecticut coronavirus update
HARTFORD, Connecticut (WABC) -- Residents and businesses in Connecticut are preparing for further easing of COVID-19 restrictions Saturday, though mandatory indoor mask-wearing rules will stay in place.

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 peoplem and business curfews will be moved back from 11 p.m. to midnight.

"I think these are all ways we have earned the right to get back to our new normal," Governor Ned Lamont said.

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Bars that do not serve food can open for service on an outdoor-only basis, though the establishments will still be prohibited from serving only alcohol indoors.

Beginning May 19, all remaining business restrictions will end, including capacity limits on movie theaters and outdoor gatherings.

Lamont said he expects the state will issue guidance but it will essentially be left up to the businesses to decide what COVID safety measures to maintain.

"I think businesses have all the freedom in the world to do everything they can to give their customers confidence, 100% confidence," he said. "And if they want to have a mask requirement, if they want to say, 'I want people to get tested,' if they want to say, 'vaccinations,' that's up to the business. That's up to the venue. What we have is a set of minimum requirements, which I think are necessary to keep the state of Connecticut safe."

Lamont said the state would be talking to businesses and indicated indoor mask rules would transition from mandates to guidance.

"I think we're going to mandate that you continue to wear the mask in school through the end of the school year," Lamont said. "It gives students, teachers, and parents some confidence. I'll have a discussion with the legislature about that. And probably, we're going to require indoor masking a little bit longer, until you're vaccinated, in crowded public places. But that's it."

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The moves come 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.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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