Clinton Officials Prepare for Retail, Restaurant Reopenings
On May 20, the state is set to start reopening some businesses under new guidelines designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. To help businesses comply with the new orders, Clinton’s land use officials will be instituting a number of new policies.
On May 12, Governor Ned Lamont signed Executive Order 7 MM, which lays out guidelines for specific business - including hair salons and barbershops, offices that cannot work remotely, retail establishments and malls, and outdoor business only for museums, zoos, and restaurants—that wish to reopen.
The order allows for towns to modify their zoning rules and ordinances to expand outdoor dining space, as well as provide an expedited approval process to create an outdoor dining space.
Restaurants that currently have a liquor license will be able to serve alcohol outdoors, but restaurants that do not have approval for liquor cannot serve alcohol, and bars must remain closed. Golf and country clubs can open outdoor dining spaces and can serve food to members and their families only.
Retail stores will be allowed to sell in outdoor spaces including sidewalks and in shared spaces. If a business wishes to use part of a road, the local traffic authority may review the request to allow for outdoor activities.
“Per the governor’s executive order, we will have 10 days to approve the applications or they will be automatically approved,” said Assistant Zoning Enforcement Officer Kathy King. “The applicant has to be sure all required paperwork is submitted with their application, so we can process the paperwork quickly.”
King said that if restaurants begin using tents outdoors, there can be no cooking or heaters in the tents, and the tents have to be open with no closed sides. Building Inspector Ed Smith noted that “the Building Department and the fire marshal will be conducting additional inspections for compliance with the state building and fire codes for what we have jurisdiction over. We do not have the authority to enforce any distancing regulations.”
According to King, the town hopes businesses will follow the guidelines. King said that the local health district will be doing increased inspections and the land use office will be notified of violations. “If we get calls about violations, we will notify the proper authorities. For example, if it’s a health violation, we’ll contact CRAHD [Connecticut River Area Health District]. If it’s a parking or traffic violation, we’ll contact the traffic authority. The Fire Department and Police Department will address safety concerns, parking, etc.”