With rain and chilly temperatures, it wasn’t a good day for al fresco dining. But Gov. Ned Lamont announced Saturday the issuance of the first-of-its kind state permit: Mystic Pizza was granted permission to use a state highway right-of-way for outdoor dining.
It’s not quite as dangerous as it sounds. The pizza place made famous by a movie of the same name is located in the village of Mystic on West Main Street, which happens to be a state road. The portion of the right-of-way to be used for tables is the sidewalk, the governor’s office said.
Restaurants were permitted to resume table service as of May 20 in the first phase of easing of COVID-19 restrictions. But they are limited to outdoor tables. Lamont has encouraged municipalities to allow restaurants to place tables on sidewalks and in the parking lanes of roadways, where safe.
“We want to do our best to partner with businesses to make any adjustments we can to help commercial operations resume while also maintaining the necessary health standards that will keep customers and employees protected,” Lamont said. “This is going to require some creative modifications that we’ve never had to do before, but working together we can find solutions to many of these obstacles.”
Shopping malls and other retailers were permitted to reopen during phase one with limits on capacity and a requirement that cloth masks are worn as precaution against spreading the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Hair salons can reopen June 1.
Lamont expects to permit indoor dining when he further loosen restrictions sometime around June 20, based on the continuing fall of COVID-19 hospitalizations and the rate of new cases. In the second phase, gyms, movie theaters, and bowling alleys can reopen.
On Saturday, the state Department of Public Health reported 6,039 new tests produced 382 positive results, an infection rate of about 6%. Since the first laboratory-confirmed case in March, more than 208,000 residents have been tested, with an infection rate of nearly 20%.
Hospitalizations fell by 16 to 724 on Saturday. With 38 additional deaths, the fatalities attributed to COVID-19 are now 3,675.