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Gov. Lamont relaxes social gathering restrictions, releases guidelines for churches to reopen

The governor says people may have groups of up to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, provided that social distancing is still practiced.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Governor Ned Lamont held a news briefing on the north steps of the State Capitol Friday to provide updates on Connecticut’s coronavirus response efforts.

He reported that COVID-18 metrics have continued to trend in the 'right direction.'

According to Gov. Lamont, that state has seen one of its largest drops in hospitalizations Friday, as 71 less people are being treated.

The governor also eased up on social gathering restrictions. He says people may have groups of up to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, provided that social distancing is still practiced. 

Casinos will begin their 'preliminary opening' Saturday, May 30. They will reopen officially a couple days later on June 1.

Officials say out-of-staters will not be allowed to to stay at casino hotels and masks will be required for visitors.

Gov. Lamont was also joined by several faith leaders from across the state while announcing guidelines for their reopening.

According to Lamont, the state's houses of worship in will be allowed to reopen with only 100 people or 25 percent capacity in attendance.

Outside services will allow up to 150 people in attendance.

Last week, President Trump announced that churches and other houses of worship should be considered essential, and allowed to open during the coronavirus pandemic.

RELATED: Trump tells governors to let houses of worship open 'right now'

Trump said governors should let places of worship to open "right now," because the country needs more prayer. 

“Today I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services," Trump said during the hastily arranged press conference Friday.

The President continues saying that if governors don't abide by his request, he will “override" them, though it's unclear what authority he has to do so.

RELATED: Archdiocese of Hartford to resume public Masses June 8 on weekdays only

RELATED: Manchester pastor looking forward to reopening his church

On Thursday, Gov. Lamont visited a mobile COVID-19 testing program launched by Trinity Health of New England and Charter Oak Health Center.

The mobile program will provide free COVID-19 testing in 19 different locations in the coming weeks, including in Hartford, East Hartford, Bloomfield, and Windsor.

The mobile testing program will utilize the Charter Oak mobile medical and dental van in addition to tented areas at each mobile test site location. These sites will allow community members to walk up, no appointment necessary, and receive a COVID-19 test. The testing is free and available to all ages, 6 months, and older. Each mobile test site will be staffed by individuals from Charter Oak and Saint Francis Hospital, a member of Trinity Health Of New England.

Governor Lamont's office also released the latest COVID-19 numbers in Connecticut Thursday. 

At the Thursday announcement, Gov. Lamont said that all the key metrics are heading in the right direction after phase 1 May 20th reopening. Gov. Lamont said that hospitalizations heading down, and we are now two-thirds off the peak, and that testing is going up.

According to the state's report, there are now 41,559 people who have tested positive for the virus and there have been 3,826 deaths total for the state of Connecticut. Hospitalizations are continuing to trend downward with 648 people being currently hospitalized, which is down 36 people from Wednesday.