Connecticut eases gathering limits; casinos set to reopen

HARTFORD, CT (1010 WINS) -- Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Friday eased the state’s limits on the number of people allowed at gatherings and houses of worship, but urged residents to keep social distancing. 

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The state reported 203 new COVID-19 cases and 42 new deaths on Friday, bringing its total number of cases to 41,762 and its death toll to 3,868. 

During his daily briefing on Friday, Lamont announced Connecticut would ease its attendance restrictions for gatherings. Up to 10 people will be allowed at indoor gatherings, and up to 25 people will be allowed at outdoor gatherings, he said. 

The new rules “maintain the social distancing, but (also) give you a sense that we’re easing the restrictions as long as people follow the protocols,” he explained. 

Houses of worship will be able to host indoor services “up to 25 percent capacity… or up to 100 (people), whichever is less,” Lamont said. 

Outdoor worship services will be capped at 150 people and must “maintain clear social distancing,” he noted. 

“We’ve worked really hard, in this time of need, in this time of emotional stress,” he said. “There’s nothing more important than the faith community and the houses of worship.”

Lamont on Friday also said casinos plan to reopen on Saturday, May 30, despite health and safety concerns raised by the state.

Tribal leaders who operate Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino have said they can choose when to reopen, given their status as sovereign nations. 

“Tomorrow, obviously, is earlier than any of our neighboring casinos (are opening), and even earlier than Las Vegas,” Lamont said. “But they took to heart some of the thoughts that we had.”

Out-of-state residents will be barred from staying at casino hotels throughout Connecticut’s first phase of reopening, dining will be outdoor-only through June 20, and patrons will be required to wear masks, Lamont said.

Casinos will be serving alcohol, despite his protestations, the governor noted. 

“I felt pretty strongly that drinking was probably not conducive to social distancing inside the casino,” he said. “I have not gotten a positive response on that.” 

Lamont urged Connecticut residents with pre-existing conditions not to take advantage of the casino reopenings this weekend.

“Stay safe, stay home,” he said. 

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