Restaurants in West Hartford – and throughout the state and region – will allow only take-out and delivery as of 8 p.m. Monday, and gyms and movie theaters will also be required to close.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford’s vibrant dining scene, already impacted by efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay through social distancing – will screech to a halt as of 8 p.m. Monday, when a regional order announced by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy takes effect.
As of 8 p.m., on-premise dining will be prohibited. Delivery and take-out only will be permitted.
“These are unprecedented times that require extreme measures in order to protect our community, our state and our region,” West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor told We-Ha.com.
“West Hartford restaurants are so important to the vibrancy and quality of life of our community. These exceptional restrictions affect so many people that will need support during these challenging times. If you are able to support these treasured establishments – you can by purchasing gift cards or ordering take-out,” said Cantor.
The rule also impacts gyms, movie theaters, and casinos, which are required to close as of 8 p.m. Monday, and must remain closed until further notice. Other retail businesses, including liquor stores, have not been directly addressed.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker had already issued a similar decree on Sunday.
Because Connecticut’s casinos are owned and operated by tribes which are sovereign nations and do not necessarily have to comply with a state mandate, however, in response to a question by a reporter Lamont said that it’s a “legal and jurisdictional case,” but he is hopeful they will follow the state’s lead.
Essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations will be allowed to remain open.
Gatherings will be restricted to 50 people or less in Connecticut as well as states across the region.
All non-essential travel is also being discouraged as well.
“If you have any options stay home. If you’re over 60, or 70, stay home,” said Lamont, urging people to use FaceTime to communicate with grandchildren.
While COVID-19 is more likely to cause severe complications in the elderly, that doesn’t mean young people are exempt from the mandate.
“Just because you don’t feel sick, and this is a particular shout out to you young people” doesn’t mean you should go out, Murphy said.
Lamont said the state will do what can be done to keep restaurants and other businesses, a key part of the state’s economy, going.
“This regional cooperation for consistent policies is critical to minimize density with the goal of flattening the curve so we do not overwhelm our medical institutions and facilities,” Cantor said.
“We’re going to get through this if we work together,” Lamont said. “We’ve got to give people that sense of urgency that we’re doing the best we can,” and the regional approach will ensure that people won’t just head to a bordering state because a business is closed in Connecticut.
Lamont also said that state education leaders are working to develop online programs “to maintain at least some semblance of education.” West Hartford Public Schools is also working on plans that will be announced in the next day or two.
This is a virus “that knows no borders,” said Lamont.
“We must do everything we can as a community to slow the spread of this virus so that we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system and we protect the most vulnerable. Viruses do not know borders, which is why taking a regional approach on this issue is the best plan forward. A national approach to these measures would be the best option to slow and mitigate the spread of this virus,” Lamont said.
“There is no doubt, especially today, that when states can work together well … it makes all the difference,” Cuomo said.
“We are all in this together … it has to be up to all of us,” Murphy said.
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