HARTFORD — As Covid-19 hospitalizations continue to trend downward and Connecticut inched closer to its first phase of reopening on May 20, state Rep. Joe Polletta, R-68, and state Sen. Eric Berthel, R-32, launched a survey last week gauging constituents’ interest in allowing restaurants to open with limited indoor capacity and strict social distancing measures.
Under the current Phase 1 reopening guidelines, restaurants may only open with outdoor seating.
The legislators were particularly interested in whether patrons would feel safe dining indoors at a restaurant with reduced capacity and whether they would bring their families to eat at a restaurant under those circumstances.
Of the more than 1,000 respondents from around the state, nearly 60 percent answered affirmatively to both questions.
Rep. Polletta and Sen. Berthel acknowledged on May 18 that 60 percent does not constitute a mandate from constituents, but they said public opinion appears to support a phased reopening that includes indoor spaces at restaurants.
“Small, Main Street businesses, including restaurants, have been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rep. Polletta.
“Now that we’re beginning to see promising declines in hospitalizations and a stabilization of case rates, we need to talk about how we can reopen our state in a safe, sensible and sustainable manner.
“I think we can still accomplish this delicate balance with guidelines that allow restaurants to open with indoor seating.”
“Nobody really knows what ‘safe’ means,” said Sen. Berthel. “Your car isn’t perfectly safe. Air travel isn’t perfectly safe. Food isn’t perfectly safe. Medicine isn’t perfectly safe. We assume risks every day in our lives and the reality is that Covid-19 is now one of those risks.
“We need to restart our economy with safety being the priority, continuing to practice good hygiene, personally and professionally.
“We’ve all learned how to socially distance, wear masks and not stick our fingers in our mouths, noses and eyes. If we continue to practice what we’ve learned, we know we reduce the risk.”
Along with outdoor seating at restaurants, the state allowed outdoor museums and zoos, offices and retailers to reopen on May 20.