HARTFORD, Conn — The opening date for barbershops and hair salons in Connecticut has been pushed from May 20th to June 1st, 2020. Governor Ned Lamont explained the decision during his Monday press briefing, which he said was made from a "health point of view."
"I heard from a lot of the stylists. I heard from a lot of the folks that run the hair salons, and they said give us a little more time. We just not ready. We're not ready from the employee point of view - feeling comfortable coming back, getting some of the cleaning agents and things they wanted. They wanted an extra week or two, so we said June 1st," Governor Lamont said.
Governor Lamont said his decision was also aligned with Rhode Island's plan, and he explained why to FOX61's Zinnia Maldonado.
"We made our own choice on that, but it did seem to me thoughtful that if we could do it in association at least with Rhode Island and Massachusetts - it made some sense," Governor Lamont said. "We were both trying to prevent people from driving back and forth across the border…We just thought it was appropriate if we could do it together, it made it sense to do it. We're all pretty much within the same time zone so we did it together."
Governor Lamont apologized to the businesses that were "all set and ready to go on May 20th," and asked for more a little more time to get their peers "up and operating."
Hair salons and barbershops were initially included in Phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopen plan, which begins May 20, however Governor Lamont said that after having extensive discussions with owners and employees of these businesses he feels that it is in everyone’s best interests to provide for some additional preparation time and also align the state with its regional partners.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of feedback from many owners and employees, and at this time I think the best approach is that we hit pause on the reopening of hair salons and barbershops, take a step back, and allow some more time as preparations continue to be made,” said Governor Lamont said.
He also explained the state's guidelines will be enforced once businesses do start to open up Wednesday.
"My understanding is there will be an executive order that gives guidance to the municipalities on enforcing this," Governor Lamont said. "We'll be there to back them up. We've got State Police. We've got others in the community, so we'll be there to stand up. And as I said before, we've got a hotline that allows us to act as a traffic cop, so we'll know where there may be folks that aren't following the key protocols going forward."
Governor Lamont also provided on update on all seven metrics, which are key in the state's reopening plan.
Hospitalizations: 14-day decline
According to Governor Lamont, there has been nearly a four-week decline of hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Connecticut. He said, "We're about 53% below the peak."
The latest daily summary shows hospitalizations dropped by 17 to 920.
The initial goal was to increase testing capacity in the state to a rate of 42,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests per week by May 20th.
"That seemed a little ambitious when we said 42,000 tests a week. Going back a few weeks ago now we weren't even close to that number," Governor Lamont said. "As you see now, we have achieved that number. We've done 45,000 tests in the last seven days. So, we've probably doubled our capacity in a week or so."
Governor Lamont said the state has also secured laboratory capacity to 70,000 per week growing to over 100,000 tests per week by mid-June.
As of May 18th, a total number of 177,679 tests for COVID-19 have been performed in Connecticut.
Sufficient contact tracing
According to Governor Lamont, the state's contact tracing program is operational. Created in partnership with Microsoft, the initiative called ContaCT will help track and trace COVID-19 in Connecticut.
"What was important that we get this program up and operating by May 20th, and that we have done," Governor Lamont said.
Protecting vulnerable populations
Governor Lamont said the goal of screening of vulnerable or high-risk groups has been achieved. He said over 10,000 tests were distributed to targeted populations for mass testing including:
- Nursing homes
- Direct care workers
- Corrections staff
- First responders
- At risk urban communities
Adequate health care capacity
According to Governor Lamont, the state's goal was to have <20% of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients amongst the total bed capacity at epidemic peak. Governor Lamont said as of Monday, May 18th, about 11% of hospital beds in Connecticut are filled with COVID-19 related patients.
"A number that has been going down for some time," Governor Lamont said.
With less patients in the hospital with COVID-19, hospitals have been able to resume select procedures, which were postponed due to COVID-19 capacity plans.
Adequate supply of PPE
The initial goal for the state was to have a 30-day supply of PPE on hand, but Governor Lamont said currently the state has a 60-day supply. He added PPE is being delivered to nursing homes, which have been hit hard by COVID-19.
"To make sure not only do they have adequate gowns and masks, but they have a stockpile, an inventory going forward," Governor Lamont added.
Over the last few days, 50,000 thermometers have also been distributed to businesses. Temperature is an "early detection," for COVID-19.
Appropriate workplace safeguards
Governor Lamont said Connecticut has "been a leader" in this category.
"We've come up with a more detailed, clearer set of protocols and graphics to give people confidence that when they open, they know how to open, they know how to keep their employees safe, and know how to keep their customers safe," Governor Lamont said. "If you want to open up successfully, you're going to have to give those customers and employees a real sense that you know how important their health is."
During Monday's briefing, the Governor's Office also announced the launch of a small business reopening resource guide. It's a comprehensive list of financing resources, employee training and support, physical layout solutions, and a geographic list of supplies.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of eastern Connecticut lawmakers urged Lamont to get involved in working to reopen the casinos, which have left roughly 10,000 people out-of-work and impacted hundreds of businesses.
Connecticut will slowly begin to reopen starting on May 20. Phase one is set to start Wednesday, and certain businesses will be allowed to welcome people back. Here's what you need to know >>