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Restaurants: ‘Phase 3’ Set to Begin Next Month

UPDATE
Connecticut will move to a third phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions on Oct. 8, permitting theaters and concert halls to reopen on a limited basis and increasing the indoor capacity of restaurants and event venues as the New England weather turns crisp.

Gov. Ned Lamont struck a parental note in announcing the changes at a late-afternoon briefing Thursday, expressing equal measures of pride in how Connecticut tamed the novel coronavirus and nervousness about the risk of a relapse.

“We’ve earned the right to take a little more risk, I’ve got to admit it, when it comes to restaurants and some of these events and some of these gatherings,” Lamont said. “But I think it’s important that we keep this progress going as long as we do it cautiously.”

His commissioner of economic and community development, David Lehman, said 99% of the state’s economy will able to be open after Oct. 8, albeit under orders requiring a continued adherence to social-distancing and other precautions.

“I think the question is how much does the consumer participate in that economy,” Lehman said. The state estimates that business activity is off 15% to 20% from pre-COVID levels.

“I think the question is how much does the consumer participate in that economy,” Lehman said. The state estimates that business activity is off 15% to 20% from pre-COVID levels.

Connecticut suffered greatly in the early months of the pandemic, posting a per-capita death rate that trailed only New Jersey and New York. But residents and businesses, by and large, have complied with closure orders that came at a high economic cost.

“The economy will never come back if public health is not front and center,” Lamont said. “That’s true just in terms of giving consumers confidence, and it’s true more broadly in terms of the economy. I think Connecticut so far is going in the right direction.”

The state just hit a milestone of 1.5 million tests, slowly building a capacity that now is about 100,000 a week. Connecticut needed five months to reach one million tests — and only one month for the next half-million, Lamont said.

“That shows we’re able to keep on top of the infection rate in the state, keep on top of track and trace, and hold the lid on what we’ve got to do,” Lamont said. “And that gives us a little bit of flexibility going forward.”

The current seven-day average is a 1.1% positivity rate on COVID testing.

On Thursday, the state Department of Public Health reported two COVID-related deaths, bringing the total to 4,499, and 157 new cases. There were 72 patients hospitalized with COVID, down from a peak of 2,000 in late April.

“Pretty good numbers there,” Lamont said. But he added, “This is not time for us to lose our discipline.”

Connecticut began easing restrictions in May. In Lamont’s words, the state “hit the pause button” in July, alarmed by a resurgence of the disease throughout much of the U.S., though not in the northeast.

Under phase 3, indoor dining at restaurants can increase from 50% to 75% of capacity, as will be the case for libraries, hair salons and personal services. Indoor performance-arts venues can reopen at 50% of capacity with requirements for masks and social distancing.

Currently limited to no more than 25 patrons and staff, commercial event facilities will be able to use 50% of their capacity, capped at 100 people indoors and 150 outdoors. Indoor graduations and religious services will be capped at 200.

For couples getting married, that could mean a church wedding of up to 200, but an indoor reception of no more than 100. Lamont, whose daughter postponed until next year her Labor Day weekend wedding, said the restrictions will be periodically re-evaluated.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association has been pressing the Lamont administration to begin phase 3, while refraining from public criticism. The industry has acknowledged that lifting the restrictions would be of limited value without public confidence in the safety of restaurant dining.

“Today’s news is another important step in Connecticut’s nation-leading efforts to respond to COVID-19 in a safe and responsible manner,” said Scott Dolch, the executive director of the association. “Like the rest of the country, Connecticut is not out of the woods of this pandemic by any stretch, but we’ve proven that it’s possible to be mindful of our local economy at the same time we keep our residents as safe as possible.”

The restaurants were allowed outdoor dining in May and limited indoor dining on June 17.

“That means that for more than three months, customers throughout the state have been dining indoors while Connecticut has held COVID transmission to some of the lowest levels in the country. Connecticut restaurateurs have proven their ability to adapt, follow new rules, and serve customers safely.”

At its peak, the restaurant industry employed 10% of the workforce.

The industry continues to face significant challenges, even as restrictions ease. With limited business travel and meetings, as well as companies continuing to allow many employees to work remotely, the pool of potential patrons remains small in some places.

Bars and nightclubs remain closed, though bars and brew pubs with dining are open.

“We’re encouraging a dining experience — and a seated one at that,” Lehman said.

“For me, the bars by definition are everything contrary to social distancing, everything contrary to maintaining your distance, everything contrary to wearing a mask,” Lamont said.

Outdoor venues can increase attendance from 25% to 50% of capacity, most likely allowing fans to begin watching the professional soccer club, Toronto FC, which has temporarily moved its home games from Toronto to Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

“We are having a live conversation right now about that, and we are very hopeful we can provide Connecticut residents with the opportunity to be there live, in person.” Lehman said. “So, stay tuned. More to come.”

—CTMirrror..org

Fall Fashion & Beauty Day Set for Downtown

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association (WDMA) said it will hold its first Fall Fashion & Beauty Day on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Merchants will be moving merchandise, tables, and fixtures to the sidewalks and streets to create more space for shopping.

“While it’s called Fashion & Beauty Day because we have so many fashion and beauty retailers, all downtown merchants are invited to participate,” an announcement said. Some merchants will feature sidewalk sales, while others may choose to highlight current products.

Main, Elm, and Church Streets will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Merchants with stores not located on one of these streets will set up at empty store spots downtown. Masks and social distancing rules still apply.

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020


Westport Town Offices & Senior Center are closed.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – 50 Imperial Ave. – Westport Farmers Market
2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Westport Library – Open for limited services
5:30 p.m. – Westport Senior Center via Zoom – New to Medicare
7 p.m. – Electronically – Planning & Zoning Commission: live streamed on http://www.westportct.gov, Optimum ch. 79, Frontier ch. 6020
7 p.m. – Virtual Westport Library – StoryFest 2020: Final Cuts – New Tales of Hollywood Horror & Other Spectacles
7:45 p.m. – Imperial Parking Lot – Remarkable Drive-In Theater with Colony Pizza: “Miracle”

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar

Church Lane Closure Extended to Oct. 31

WestportNow.com Image
The Board of Selectmen today approved further closure of Church Lane for outdoor dining until Oct. 31. Merchants said the closure has been successful in driving business to restaurants and merchants. The closure was originally proposed by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association for August.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Corinne R. Youngling, 91

Corinne Russo Youngling of Naples, Florida, a former Westport resident, died Sept. 6. She was 91.

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Corrine Youngling Contributed photo

She was the wife of the late Theodore (Ted) Youngling to whom she was married 52 years. She was the oldest of five children of Sabitino and Eleanor (D’Onofrio) Russo of Wilmington, Delaware.

Corinne and Ted lived around many college campuses before settling in Westport in 1966 with their four children where Corinne taught special education for 25 years in the Norwalk school system.

She obtained a masters degree in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State College. She proudly crossed the picket line several times because she felt her students were more important than a walkout.

After retiring, Corinne and Ted enjoyed traveling to many beautiful places, splitting their time between Westport and Naples until Teds’ death in 2006.

Corinne became a full-time resident of Naples where she kept busy with many activities including tennis, the Pelican Bay Widows group, volunteering at the Naples Philharmonic, and faithfully attending many exercise classes which she especially enjoyed until the last days of her life.

For her entire life, Corinne was known for her grace, elegance, and fabulous style. Her parties were anticipated and well attended every year. In her later years, her choices in nail colors were the envy of anyone who met her.

Corinne is survived by her four children, Eleanor (Skip) Hull of Warwick, RI, Dr. Anne Youngling of Milford, Ted Youngling of Bronxville, NY and Elizabeth Youngling (Arthur Swanberg) of Lexington, KY and 11 grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Barbara Russo, many cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends who were considered family.

Services and burial will be from Assumption Church in Westport at the convenience of the current pandemic. Arrangements through the Harding Funeral Home, Westport.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Corinne’s name may be made to support.firstbook.org . For online condolences, please visit http://www.FullerNaples.com

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020


Westport Town Offices & Senior Center are closed.
9 a.m. – Electronically – Board of Selectmen: live streamed on http://www.westportct.gov, Optimum ch. 79, Frontier ch. 6020
2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Westport Library – Open for limited services
7 p.m. – Electronically – Conservation Commission: live streamed on http://www.westportct.gov, Optimum ch. 79, Frontier ch. 6020
7 p.m. – Virtual Westport Library – StoryFest 2020: World in the Mirror – How Genre Imagines the Present

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar

KHS Staff Member Tests Positive for COVID-19

A staff member at Kings Highway Elementary School self-reported a positive COVID-19 test to the administration. Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice said today.

The affected person will be excluded from the school environment and has been instructed to quarantine at home, he said.

“Upon learning of the positive COVID-19 case, the administration began immediate contact tracing,” he said in an email to parents.

“Those determined to be ‘close contacts,’ including the entire Kings Highway administrative team, additional staff members, and a small number of students, have been notified.”

Scarice said these individuals spent a significant amount of time in the presence of the positive case, and as a result, were informed that they will be excluded from the school environment and recommended to quarantine for 14 days from the date of contact, Sept. 21. 

“They were also asked to reach out to their health care provider to obtain testing. To be clear, siblings and other family members of these children and staff do not need to quarantine,” Scarice added.

He said In order to support the administration of the building during this time period, who will remain actively involved in the day to day operations of Kings Highway while in quarantine, Ann Leffert has been asked to return in an interim principal role, supported by Ali Moran in an interim assistant principal role.

“Both Ms. Leffert and Ms. Moran will report to Kings Highway tomorrow and serve as the school’s acting on-site administration until Oct. 6,” Scarice said.

He added: “We are educating our students in the midst of a global pandemic.  I expect that we will continue to confront circumstances like this throughout the duration of the pandemic and respond appropriately.  We will continue to count on each other as we rise up and endure this challenge.”