Just one day after Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced a four-phase process to reopen the state, some local businesses have mixed responses when it comes to actually opening their doors once again and having customers return.
The first phase allows retailers, offices, hair and nail salons, and outdoor parts of restaurants to be back serving customers as soon as May 20 — but those who own the businesses say that may be too soon.
"It's a little scary, I think we are all nervous about it," said Tracy Ferrara, who owns a hair salon. Her main concern stems from the close contact that business such as her requires between workers and customers, and not having the proper gear to protect people.
We don't have the resources right now. We don't have PPE and other things, so they are putting us in a very tough position," Ferrara said. "If I am doing a highlight, I am literally over someone's face. If I am shampooing, I am over their head, breathing down on them, them breathing on me."
Gov. Lamont said businesses that are reopening must operate at a reduced capacity and practice social distancing, with many being required to wear face masks as they work. Ferrara said that it's a good idea in theory, but isn't sure it's enough to properly protect her and the customers.
Other businesses that have remained open during the shutdown are skeptical as well, concerned about a possibly flare-up that could devastate shops all over again.
But not all share the hesitation. Giovanni Gentile owns the restaurant Capriccios in Stamford, and said business had been suffering since the lockdown began — forcing them to close down entirely in the meantime. Now, he's looking forward to starting up the kitchen and serving diners once again.
"There wasn't enough business to support the restaurant or the employees," he said of his time during the ongoing shutdown. "We are very excited because I think it's a good thing we are going to see a lot of people again."
In the tri-state, Connecticut has fared better than New York and New Jersey, reporting 2,339 fatalities to date and 28,764 total positive cases. The widely watched IHME projection model puts it far behind the other two states on the overall virus curve; it says Connecticut could look to relax restrictions after June 21, well past the May 29 date it most recently set for the other two states.
Before Gov. Lamont's plan can begin, the state must record 14-straight days on declining COVID-19 hospitalizations. On Friday, the state hit it's ninth consecutive day of decline.
The businesses eligible to reopen represent about 30 percent of Connecticut's unemployment claims, according to Josh Geballe, chief operating officer for the state.