CT Reopens in Phases – What You Need to Know

Connecticut began reopening its economy, after COVID-19 restrictions shut down the state for nearly two months. But even though retail stores and outdoor dining areas were allowed to reopen on May 20, marking the first phase of reopening, there are still three more phases to go before the state is fully operational.

By Tribuna Staff | Translated by Jamal Fox & Alisson Ziza

Connecticut began reopening its economy after COVID-19 restrictions shut down the state for nearly two months. But even though retail stores and outdoor dining areas were allowed to reopen on May 20, marking the first phase of reopening, there are still three more phases to go before the state is fully operational. Here are specific guidelines for phases 1, 2, and 3.


List of sectors open as of Phase 1 (May 20)

Never closed, open under safe workplace rules

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Real Estate
  • Utilities
  • Hospitals
  • Essential retail


Open under sector-specific rules

  • Restaurants (outdoor only, no bar areas)
  • Non-essential retail
  • Offices (continue WFH where possible)
  • Museums, Zoos (outdoor)
  • Outdoor recreation; hair salons (June 1)


Phase 2 & 3 business sectors to open


Phase 2 (Approx. June 20 - While June 20 is the target date, the state will only move to phase 2 upon achievement of certain public health metrics)

  • Accommodation (no bar areas)
  • Gyms, fitness & sports clubs
  • All personal services
  • Outdoor arts, entertainment and events (up to 50 people)
  • Outdoor amusement parks
  • Movie theaters
  • Bowling alleys
  • Social clubs, pools
  • All museums, zoos, aquariums
  • Restaurants (indoor, no bar)


Phase 3 (At least 4 weeks later)

  • Bars
  • Indoor event spaces & venues
  • Indoor amusement parks & arcades
  • Outdoor events (up to 100 people)

According to Governor Lamont’s office, the reopening criteria for Phase 1 (May 20) have been satisfied. There has been a sustained decline of hospitalizations since April, 20 and Connecticut is 55 percent below peak. Forty-five thousand tests have been administered per week, with over 10,000 tests distributed to target populations. The state has a stockpile in the warehouse for 60 days of supply in personal protective equipment and has issued detailed guidelines for each business sector to protect the workplace.

For phase 2, the target is a declining transmission rate, less than the 100-bed net increase in hospitalizations in the last week of phase 1, testing and contact tracing 100,000 tests a week, healthcare capacity less than 20 percent of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients among total peak COVID-19 bed capacity. Phase 3 criteria are in the progress of being developed.

In a press release, the governor stressed that the decision to reopen during this phase rests with each individual business owner – they are not required to open if they do not choose to do so; however, if they do, they must follow the rules as prescribed.

“The protocols were developed by Governor Lamont, members of his office, and the Department of Economic and Community Development, in consultation with legislators and recommendations made by the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, which consists of several of the state’s leading medical experts and representatives of several business and industry groups.”

Here are the details of some executive orders issued by Governor Lamont in tandem with guidance for reopening businesses in phase 1.

Here is what the executive order does:

  • Repeals several previously enacted executive orders to allow for the safe reopening of certain sectors of the economy on May 20, including for the reopening of outdoor dining, offices, retail and malls, museums and zoos, and outdoor recreation businesses.
  • Modifies certain statues and regulations to permit the enforcement of sector rules as certain businesses reopen on May 20, including for local and district health directors and municipal chief executive officers
  • Extends the prohibition of large gatherings through June 20, 2020.
  • Allows for the sale of mixed drinks for takeout and delivery by various liquor permittees under certain conditions.

Information and guidelines can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-Business-Recovery/Sector-Rules-for-May-20-Reopen.

Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has issued a reopening resources guide for small businesses:


Governor Lamont also issued an executive order with the following provisions to encourage mitigation strategies that slow down the transmission of COVID-19:

  • Allows municipalities to expedite changes to their zoning rules or other ordinances to expand outdoor dining
  • Creates an expedited approval process for restaurants and other establishments that serve food to get fast-tracked permission to create or expand outdoor dining areas
  • Allows other businesses such as retail stores to get fast-tracked permission to sell goods on the sidewalk or in other outdoor areas, including shared spaces or spaces provided by municipalities
  • Allows restaurants and other businesses who already have liquor permits to serve alcohol only with food without applying for a separate patio or extension of use permit
  • Allows private clubs to sell alcohol only to their members for delivery or pickup

Self-Certification for Reopening

Before businesses can open their doors for business, they must self-certify that they are following strict safety guidelines to keep their employees and customers safe.

They can start the self-certification process right at the Connecticut Business Reopening and Recovery Center, at https://business.ct.gov/recovery.

Please note that businesses deemed essential do not need to self-certify. To find out if your business is eligible to reopen, visit the updated business sector guidelines on https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-Business-Recovery/Sector-Rules-for-May-20-Reopen.

For assistance and resources to help reopen your business, consistent with new state regulations that govern reopening, please visit the Small Business Reopening Resources Guide at the Department of Economic and Community Development: https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-Business-Recovery/Small-Business-Reopening-Resource-Guide.

Enforcement Protocols for Safe Reopening

Governor Lamont released the enforcement protocols for those who may not be compliant with safe reopening procedures. The following press release discusses these protocols: https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of -the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2020/05-2020/Governor-Lamont-Coronavirus-Update-May-20.

Residents and/or Employees who want to report noncompliance:

  • Contact Local Law Enforcement or call 2-1-1
  • Submit a Reopen CT Complaint Form online at ct.gov/coronavirus
  • If residents and employees do not have internet access, they can also call 2-1-1, who will fill out the form on their behalf.
  • Enforcement delegated to local police, local public health departments and municipal chief elected officials or their designees
  • In most instances, a first violation should result in a warning and education by local law enforcement
  • In instances of a second or more egregious violation, law enforcement will refer a complaint to the local Public Health Department or Chief Elected Official
  • Local Public Health and Chief Elected Official may order the closure of an establishment