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As Phase Two Begins, Connecticut Employers Must Still Comply with Pandemic Workplace Rules

June 17, 2020

On June 16, 2020, in anticipation of the Phase Two reopenings of some businesses, Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 7ZZ repealing some prior orders and issuing new rules for businesses that are allowed to reopen. In doing so, however, Executive Order 7ZZ adds a new complexity to the rules that might be followed.

Here are the highlights:

  • Essential Businesses will continue to operate under the rules for Essential Businesses promulgated by the DECD. This will continue through the duration of the public health emergency which is now scheduled to end on September 9, 2020.
     
  • Hotels and other commercial lodging places can now operate without the prior restrictions of Executive Order 7T, Section 1 (which is repealed). However, these hotels must follow the Sector Rules set forth by the DECD. The Order also makes clear that all the Sector Rules promulgated by the DECD (whether for hotels or other businesses) are to be considered “legally binding and enforceable”.
     
  • Prior restrictions on large gatherings and events are being changed to follow new DECD Rules for Gatherings and Venues and the Sector Rules for Outdoor Events.
     
    • Effective June 17, 2020, indoor private gatherings may have 25 people, outdoor gatherings may have 100 people, and outdoor event venues can have 25 percent of fire capacity.
       
    • Effective July 3, graduations may be held for up to 150 people (with the indoor and outdoor gathering numbers remaining the same) and outdoor organized gatherings (such as fireworks) may be held up to 500 people (with 15 feet of space between blankets).
       
  • Restaurants are now permitted to have indoor dining as long as they follow Sector Rules promulgated by the DECD. However, bars are to remain closed through July 20, 2020. The rules for restaurant takeout and dining remain in effect (as set forth in Executive Order 7N, Section 2).
     
  • All restrictions on personal services (such as nail salons or tattoo parlors) are repealed immediately. In doing so, the restrictions of Executive Order 7G, Section 4 are also repealed. Employers are again still obligated to follow the legally binding and enforceable Sector Rules.
     
  • As anticipated, gyms, sports, fitness and recreation facilities, movie theaters and public amusement parks are allowed to reopen immediately under the DECD Sector Rules. However, off-track betting is still not permitted through July 20, 2020.
     
  • Finally, while not a business order, Executive Order 7Q, Section 3 -- which permits remote notarization -- will continue for the duration of the public health emergency. This will assist businesses involved with litigation to get depositions done remotely.

The order has no impact on Phase One business reopenings; those businesses must still follow the Sector Rules that the DECD has set forth for them. Businesses that have already self-certified that they have met the Sector Rules do not need to certify again during Phase Two.

What’s next? Phase Three is expected to occur in “mid-July” according to the State’s website. The specifics are still being worked out but some details have already been provided.

During Phase Three, the Rules for Gatherings and Venues will be modified as follows: Indoor gatherings will be permitted to have 50 people; outdoor private gatherings including graduations can have 250 people; outdoor organized gatherings (such as fireworks or concerts in a municipal park) will have no limit as long as 15-foot social distancing is followed; and outdoor event venues can have 50 percent capacity.

Employers seeking to reopen should again be cautious and make sure that the Sector Rules applicable to your business are being followed.

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