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State Sen. Needleman COVID-19 Update: June 16, 2020 — New Standards For Police, 9 Town Transit Resuming Bus Services

By Norm Needleman, State Senator.

Amid the national discussion of police accountability and transparency, law enforcement strategies and programs in Connecticut have been updated this week. The Connecticut State Police are now banned from using chokeholds, strangleholds and any other tactics restricting blood or oxygen flow to the head or neck.  Troopers will also be equipped with body cameras, with every marked vehicle to be equipped with dashboard cameras.

Additionally, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will update the state police operations manual, emphasizing several new strategies focusing on de-escalation. These include requiring officers to use all reasonable alternatives before resorting to deadly force, requiring troopers to intervene if another officer uses excessive force, prohibiting troopers from shooting at or into moving vehicles, including a matrix on use-of-force, and requiring troopers to report all uses of force.

Further, the DESPP must appoint and train community trust liaisons in each state police troop. These liaisons will assist troopers in building local and organizational relationships and improve relationships between state police and the public. The DESPP will also be prohibited from purchasing/acquiring military equipment from the federal government.

State To Reimburse Towns, Cities For COVID-19 Related Expenses

With the establishment of the new Connecticut Municipal Coronavirus Relief Fund Program, the state will reimburse municipal governments using the federally supported Coronavirus Relief Fund to offset expenses related to COVID-19. In April, all 169 municipalities in Connecticut were asked to provide the state with information on actual and projected expenses from March 1 through June 30 in combatting the public health crisis; to date, municipalities reported just under $40 million in direct costs. As the funding will be supplied through the CARES Act, the money can only be used on direct pandemic-related expenses; the state is setting aside $75 million for those direct expenses, with the state re-evaluating that allocation for further reimbursements.

Every municipality in Connecticut will receive a letter outlining the reimbursement process; the agency has also launched an informational website for municipalities with applications to be made available in coming days. The state is also using its CARES Act funding to cover large costs associated with testing, purchase of personal protective equipment, assistance to nursing homes and increased state agency needs.

Phase 2 of Connecticut’s Reopening Efforts

Phase 2 of reopening Connecticut will begin tomorrow, June 17. In Phase 2, businesses may reopen if Connecticut has met certain health criteria, including declining transmissions, testing and contact tracing, business and social safeguards, protection for the vulnerable, and healthcare capacity.

Phase 2 businesses include: gyms, fitness and sports clubs; all personal services; outdoor arts, entertainment and events (up to 50 people); movie theaters and bowling alleys; social clubs and pools;  all museums, zoos and aquariums; and indoor dining (except for bars).

Patients with Disability Allowed Support Person while in a Healthcare Facility

A resolution has been reached with the state regarding visitation policies for those with disabilities in healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Connecticut Department of Public Health released an order that establishes a statewide policy requiring hospitals and other acute care settings to permit entrance of a designated support person for a patient with a disability. Family members, service providers or other individuals who are knowledgeable about the needs of that person can serve as a designated support person. If patients with a disability are in a health care facility for longer than one day, they may designate two support persons, provided only one is present at a time. For more information on this order, you can click here.

CT Back to Work Initiative

Knowing that the employment market has been significantly altered by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the economy has suffered significant setbacks, the state announced it is creating the “CT Back to Work Initiative,” which is intended to connect workers and businesses with career tools if they have been negatively impacted. Employers looking to hire and workers seeking new positions, new career skills or even new careers can both benefit from this new system. The state is partnering with several private-sector employment services including job search engine Indeed and workforce training providers for this service.

Under a new link at ct.gov/coronavirus labeled “CT Back to Work Initiative,” those interested can access a custom jobs portal specifically pertaining to Connecticut, complementing the state’s current CTHires jobs portal. Users can also access a virtual hiring event, scheduled from June 16 to June 18. Dozens of employers are confirmed to attend.

The platform will further host online workforce training courses, expanding the SkillUp CT program launched in May to provide thousands of online courses to job seekers with specific expertise in fields Connecticut employers seek staff in. To expand that program, new tools including customized learning paths for those seeking to join the manufacturing industry have been introduced. It currently is available to individuals who applied for unemployment insurance, customized learning paths will be made available to students at Connecticut State Colleges and Universities and current manufacturing workers seeking to further bolster their skills.

60-Day Extension To Mortgage Relief

More than 45 banks and credit unions across the state agreed to extend their voluntary participation in the Connecticut Mortgage Relief Program, which assists consumers facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Originally set to expire on May 31, the program will now run through July 30. There will continue to be a 90-day grace period for all mortgage payments, relief from funds and charges, a moratorium on foreclosures, foreclosure sales and evictions for 60 additional days and no changes to credit scores for those accessing relief.

9 Town Transit Resuming Bus Services

With Connecticut continuing to move through phases and working to reopen its economy, local resources are being restored. On June 22, 9 Town Transit will restore its bus services, with Route 641 to Madison resuming its regular schedule starting on June 22. All other routes, Dial-A-Ride and ADA paratransit will continue to operate of a regular schedule. Anyone with questions should call 860-510-0429.

Connecticut River Ferries Resume Operations

The state’s two river ferry services operating on the Connecticut River will resume operations on Saturday, June 20. These two ferry services, which provide transportation from Rocky Hill to Glastonbury and from Chester to Hadlyme, would normally have begun operations on April 1.

The Chester-Hadlyme ferry will operate between 7 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. on weekdays and between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekends. The Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry will operate from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on weekdays, with no operations on Mondays, and from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Both ferries will operate through September 7, Labor Day.

In-Person Masses Resume for Churches in Hartford, Norwich Archdioceses

In-person church services have resumed in the Hartford and Norwich Archdioceses but parishioners should be aware of some changes. The archdioceses are limiting their services to weekdays only and granting Catholics and exemption from their Sunday service obligation through September 6. Guidelines that houses of worship are expected to follow include:

  • Indoor: Limit of 25 percent capacity or maximum of 100 people, whichever is smaller.
  • Outdoor: Maximum of 150 people
  • No choirs or singing groups

Other guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include maintaining social distance and no sharing cups or other items during service. The Diocese of Norwich is limiting gatherings to less than 50.

Metro-North Mandates Face Coverings

As more businesses that closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic begin to open, Metro-North has made some changes that will affect the way people commute. Face masks or face coverings are required on Metro-North property and floor decals have been added to give a visual indication of social distancing space at some locations. Metro-North urges customers and employees to social distance by six feet or more where possible, especially in stations, on platforms, when entering trains and in the terminal.

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