HARTFORD, Connecticut (WABC) -- Connecticut is planning to phase out many COVID-19 restrictions affecting businesses next month while keeping the mandatory indoor mask-wearing rules in place, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced this week.
The announcement came as the state surpassed 8,000 COVID-associated deaths, but Connecticut currently ranks second in the nation for most vaccines administered per capita.
Beginning May 1:
--Bars that do not serve food can open for service on an outdoor-only basis. These establishments will still be prohibited from serving only alcohol indoors.
--The eight-person per table limit will be lifted for outdoors only. This limit will remain in effect for indoor service.
--The curfew for restaurants, entertainment venues, recreation venues, and theaters will be moved back an hour to midnight.
Effective May 19:
--Contingent upon sufficiently low rates of infections and increasing vaccination rates, all remaining business restrictions will be lifted. The Department of Public Health will issue recommendations for indoor and other large outdoor events, such as concerts, as well as clarify where masking will continue after May 19.
"I think these are all ways we have earned the right to get back to our new normal," said Lamont, who urged people to still "continue to be cautious with the mask."
Connecticut businesses will return to 100% capacity May 19, when it will be up to state businesses "to decide how to keep people safe," Lamont said.
Indoor masks rules -- specifically in schools -- will continue.
"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."
Lamont said the state would be talking to businesses and indicated indoor mask rules would transition from mandates to guidance, and masks would not be required outside.
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.
As of Monday, 1.1 million residents have been fully vaccinated. That figure accounts for 61% of people 18 years and older.
Meanwhile, the state continues to see more infections. There were 2,700 more reported since Friday, while the number of hospitalizations increased by eight to 494.
The number of deaths increased by 19 to a total of 8,014.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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