Connecticut easing COVID restrictions, lifting capacity limits at some businesses

Connecticut coronavirus update
CONNECTICUT (WABC) -- Connecticut is easing some of its coronavirus-related restrictions as infections and hospitalizations are declining and vaccinations continue, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.

Lamont said it wasn't a major lifting of COVID-19 rules like some other states have announced, but he detailed the next phase of the reopening process.

Restaurants will be allowed to operate at full capacity on March 19, with social distancing and mask requirements still in place.

The 11 p.m. curfew for on-site dining will remain, and tables will be limited to a maximum of eight patrons.

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Sports can fully resume, including tournament play, with masks and social distancing required .

Bars will remain closed.

Travelers will be asked to quarantine after arriving in the state, but they will not be required to do so.

The governor stressed that while some of these restrictions are being eased, all of the protocols that relate to face coverings, social distancing, and cleaning measures are being maintained, and people and businesses are urged to continue adhering to those health and safety procedures.

"While it is encouraging to see the number of cases in our state gradually going down and people getting vaccinated at rates that are among the highest in the nation, we need to continue taking this virus seriously to mitigate its spread as much as possible," Lamont said. "Please continue to wear face coverings in public and when around other people outside of your households, maintain social distancing, and keep washing your hands and cleaning surfaces. Connecticut has made tremendous strides to combat this pandemic, and we don't want to lose the progress that we've made."

Protocols that will remain in effect until further notice include:
--Face coverings and masks continue to be required
--Bars that only serve beverages continue to remain closed
--11 p.m. closing time remains in place for events at venues, restaurants, and entertainment
--Indoor theaters continue to have a 50% capacity
--Large event venues (e.g. stadiums) to open in April

The protocols that will be revised in the coming days include:

Beginning Friday, March 19, all capacity limits will be eliminated for the following businesses, while face coverings, social distancing, and other cleaning and disinfecting protocols will continue to be required:
--Restaurants (8-person table capacity and 11PM required closing time for dining rooms continues)
--Retail
--Libraries
--Personal services
--Indoor recreation (excludes theaters, which will continue to have a 50% capacity)
--Gyms/fitness centers
--Museums, aquariums, and zoos
--Offices
--Houses of worship

Gathering sizes will be revised to the following amounts:
--Social and recreational gatherings at private residence - 25 indoors/100 outdoors
--Social and recreational gatherings at commercial venues - 100 indoors/200 outdoors

All sports will be allowed to practice and compete, and all sports tournaments will be allowed, subject to Department of Public Health guidance

Connecticut's travel advisory will be modified from a requirement to recommended guidance

Beginning Monday, March 29, capacity limits on early childhood classes will increase from 16 to 20

Beginning Friday, April 2, 2021:
--Outdoor amusement parks can open
--Outdoor event venues can increase to a 50% capacity, capped at 10,000 people
--Indoor stadiums can open at 10% capacity
--Summer camps and summer festivals are advised to begin the planning stages to open for the upcoming season

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The seven-day rolling average of daily new infections has dropped from about 840 to around 775 over the past two weeks, while the seven-day average of daily deaths has dropped nearly in half, from 21 to about 12.

Since Dec. 15, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has decreased from about 1,270 to about 450.

More than 550,000 of Connecticut's 3.6 million residents have received the first of two vaccination shots and another 287,000 are fully vaccinated, according to state data. The state is running an age-based vaccination program. People 55 and older recently became eligible for the inoculations. Nursing home residents, medical workers and people over 75 were among the first to receive the vaccines.

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