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State Sen. Needleman: COVID-19 June 3, 2020 — Utility Shut-Off Moratorium Extended, Safe Protesting, and New Guidelines for Places of Worship

By State Senator, Norm Needleman. 

If you use your voice and your right to protest in the coming days, please remain civil and peaceful. These are difficult times, and we need to come together; violence and damaging behavior can harm the cause of a protest instead of supporting it. No matter the cause, harming others or destroying property may not just lead to criminal charges, but can negatively impact all other protesting. I encourage everyone attending protests to exercise their right to free speech in a peaceful manner.

If you plan to protest, here are several tips to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19:

  • Wear a face covering
  • Wear eye protection
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Don’t yell; use signs & noise makers instead
  • Stick to a small group
  • Keep 6 feet from other groups

Update on Milling and Paving Construction to Take Place in East Haddam, Lyme and Old Lyme

The milling and paving project on Route 156 in East Haddam, Lyme and Old Lyme will now start on Monday, June 8. As of now, the project on an 8.44 mile segment of Route 156 will have milling begin on June 8 until June 30. The paving will run from July 7 to July 31.

The original announcement by the Connecticut Department of Transportation had the project to begin June 1.

Motorists can expect lane closures on Route 156 starting at Route 82 in East Haddam through Lyme, ending on Route 1 in Old Lyme. The regular work schedule for this project will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Motorists should know modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions, and are asked to maintain a safe speed while driving in the vicinity.

Unemployment Update from the Department of Labor

Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Department of Labor reports that it has processed more than 566,000 of a total 582,000 unemployment insurance applications; that represents the equivalent of four years of average unemployment applications activity in just 11 weeks. The DOL has now issued more than $742.5 million in state unemployment benefit payments and $1.3 billion in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation supplemental stimulus payments. On May 7, it began administering Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds; it has thus far issued $44.5 million in those payments. Additionally, as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation applications arrive in its offices, the DOL has issued $19 million in those payments.

If you have not yet applied for unemployment compensation, have questions about it or are seeking more information due to a recent change in employment, please visit

Pride Month

With the start of June begins the start of Pride Month, a celebration of the LGBTQ community and a reflection of its decades of advocacy in fighting for equality and against discrimination.

While public Pride events have been canceled due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, and others have been postponed on hopes the threat of the virus wanes, digital events will continue statewide. This is a time to celebrate living and loving freely and to remember those who sacrificed to ensure greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community in society.

Deadlines Approaching to Qualify for Coverage through Access Health CT

Connecticut residents who may have lost their jobs in recent weeks should act quickly if they would like to enroll in health care coverage through Access Health CT. Losing health insurance from furlough or a layoff is considered a qualifying life event. As a rule, people have 60 days after their coverage ends to apply through Access Health CT. The deadline for those who lost their jobs in April is approaching. For more information, you can visit

Mandatory COVID-19 Testing for Staff of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

More efforts are being made to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state. As hospitalizations continue to decline in Connecticut, Governor Lamont is continuing new strategies to slow down the transmission of the virus. In his latest executive order, it is now mandatory for staff of private and municipal nursing homes, residential communities and assisted living agencies to get tested for COVID-19. Starting the week of June 14, all staff will have to be tested weekly for the rest of the public health emergency.

Utility Shut-Off Moratorium for Businesses Extended Through July 1

The Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority today announced that the utility shut-off moratorium for businesses across the state will be extended through July 1, with the separate shut-off moratorium for residential customers remaining in place for the duration of the continued public health emergency declared by Governor Lamont. All customers of electric, natural gas and water utilities businesses regulated by PURA are considered under this moratorium and service terminations are prohibited except in instances of public safety.

Online Purchasing of Food with SNAP Benefits

Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will be able to purchase food online from participating stores in Connecticut beginning today. Those enrolled in SNAP will be able to use their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card to buy eligible food items online for delivery or curbside pickup. Retailers approved for the initial launch of online SNAP purchasing include Amazon, 12 Walmart stores and 22 ShopRite stores.

State Testing For COVID-19 Antibodies

The State of Connecticut is planning a widescale, randomized project statewide to quantify how prevalent COVID-19 has become in the state. The project involves 1,400 randomized, representative residents who will give blood samples to researchers. That will allow researchers to study their blood and see if they have developed antibodies to COVId-19, which would indicate if they previously contracted the disease. Yale University, Gallup, Quest Diagnostics and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine will combine to conduct and fulfill the project. By conducting this study, the state will be able to determine how prevalent the spread of COVID-19 has become across the state; currently, roughly 43,000 state residents have tested positive for COVID-19, but studies believe the number of individuals infected may be much higher due to individuals who may have contracted the disease without showing symptoms.

New Social Distance Gathering Recommendations, Up to 10 Inside, 25 Outside

Governor Lamont announced new recommendations for social distance gatherings in Connecticut. During the past several weeks, it was recommended that only 5 people were allowed to get together while maintaining social distancing. He has now given new guidance and said residents in the state can have up to 10 people inside their homes and up to 25 people outside while continuing to maintain social distance.

New Guidelines for Places of Worship in the State

In this time of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a strong importance of faith in the community. Governor Lamont has announced new guidelines for places of worship in Connecticut including mosques, synagogues and churches. The capacity had been limited to 50 people but as of today, that number has increased. Now there can be up to 25 percent capacity inside, or up to 100 people. With outdoor worship, new guidance suggests there can be up to 150 people while maintaining social distance.

Connecticut Colleges and Universities to Reopen to Students for Fall Semester

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities have come to a decision and are planning to have students return to campuses in fall 2020 with several safety measures in place. All four CSCU universities will open their campuses to residential and commuter students on Monday, August 24. Classes will follow the common calendar through Thanksgiving, with the balance of the semester and exams online. Arrangements for residential students to move in are still to be determined. The 12 community colleges will be able to offer on ground courses beginning June 1 for spring semester students who need to complete programs, and like the universities, the community colleges can bring students back on August 24. All community colleges and universities will be prepared to offer fully remote courses and services if public health conditions warrant.

State Judicial Branch to Reopen Three Courts June 8

The Connecticut Judicial Branch, which has been operating in limited capacity during the coronavirus pandemic, will reopen courthouses in Middletown, Rockville and Torrington on Monday, June 8. Ten courts have remained open through the pandemic: the Supreme and Appellate courts in Hartford; the Judicial District courthouses in Bridgeport, New Britain, New Haven and New London; the Geographical Area courthouses in Hartford (No. 14) and Waterbury (No. 4); and the juvenile courts in Hartford and Bridgeport.

The open courthouses will operate on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All courts will be closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays until further notice. Masks, social distancing, hand sanitizers, limitations on the number of people allowed in courtrooms and courthouses, and enhanced sanitization protocols will be part of court operations.

As Connecticut Casinos Prepare to Reopen, New Guidelines Put into Place

As casinos in the state prepare to reopen, they have new guidelines for guests to help keep those who visit safe and to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino will require everybody to wear a mask. Dining will be outdoors only and nobody who comes to the casino who is from out of state will be allowed to stay in the casino’s hotels. It is also recommended for people who are over the age of 65 to stay safe and stay home and those with pre-existing conditions to not visit either casino.

At Mohegan sun, hand sanitizer stations will be put throughout the entire properties including at game tables. Disinfecting wipes will be located throughout the gaming floor for guests to wipe down slot machines and chairs before playing. Signs will be placed throughout to remind guests and employees to wash their hands regularly. For more on Mohegan Sun’s safety plan, click here.

At Foxwoods Resort Casino, plexiglass has been installed to ensure safety at table games. Hand sanitizer will be available at all table games and in pit areas. For more information on safety guidelines at Foxwoods, you can click here.

Determination of Suitable Work for Employees in the State

Governor Lamont has enacted a new order to determine if it is safe for an employee to go back to work. Under the determination of suitable work order, this will allow the Connecticut Department of Labor to consider, when determining a worker’s eligibility for unemployment benefits, whether COVID-19 could pose a health risk to a member of that worker’s household. Determining whether that person is able to return to work or not, other household members will be taken into consideration.

CTrail Hartford Line Adds Weekday Trains, Short Line East Adjusts Schedule

The Department of Transportation is adding additional weekday trains to the Hartford Line and adjusting the schedule of Shore Line East on CTrail.

On the Hartford line, two additional Amtrak Hartford Line weekday trains will operate Monday through Friday, with one train departing Springfield at 3:55 p.m., making all intermediate stops, and arriving in New Haven at 5:18 p.m. and another train departing New Haven at 5:25 p.m., making all intermediate stops and arriving in Springfield at 6:48 p.m. One other weekday train will depart Springfield at 6:30 p.m., later than its initial 6 p.m. departure time, and arrive in New Haven at 8:02 p.m.

Additionally, three Shore Line East weekday trains will see adjusted schedules. The New London train departing at 10:20 a.m. will now depart at 10:12 a.m.; the Old Saybrook train departing at 5:49 p.m. will now depart at 5:41 p.m.; and the New Haven train departing at 5:30 p.m. will now depart at 5:25 p.m.


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