Sometime between now and May 20 we should hear a lot more from Gov. Ned Lamont about his plans to begin a phased process of loosening restrictions on businesses and gatherings. That's when his "stay at home" order suspending in-person, nonessential functions is set to expire. However, he recently determined that schools will remain closed for the balance of this school year.
But the keys to any “reopening” of the state will be testing and masks. The governor wants to see 14 days of reduced Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, combined with greater testing and the availability of masks for workers exposed to the public, before we lower our guard.
Lamont has said that in any such decision he will be guided by the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group he named, which will present him with a list of options and considerations, backed with data.
Indra Nooyi, a former CEO of Pepsi who chairs the group, has said that reopening will proceed “very carefully, in small steps,” starting “sometime in June.”
This makes sense, and we support the governor’s approach, even as we bridle at his decision to treat that 47-member panel as a non-governmental body, and therefore exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
The situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic is still up in the air. We have no idea when it will end, or how, and until we have more information we are shadow-boxing with a sinister enemy. Only hard information from medical authorities will tell us where we stand and when we can back off on some of the restrictions — as Lamont and other governors have repeatedly stated.
For now, we are reassured that Lamont has a rational, information-based process in the works, and we commend him for that.
Unlike other states, we have not had armed “protesters” demanding that restrictions be dropped, but that doesn’t mean Lamont isn’t under pressure to get the economy back in gear. We did have a rolling demonstration in Hartford not long ago, with dozens of cars and trucks circling the Capitol.
But everyone wants the state to get back to business as usual, or at least as close to usual as we can, as soon as we can.
It all comes down to this: “You want to get this state back to work?” Lamont said last week. “You want to do it safely? It's testing and masks.”