Be Aware Of These COVID-19 Rule Updates

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Jul 282020

Following is a message from The CT Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman:

While we have paused on the Phase 3 reopening of the state to protect the health of all of our residents, we have made some updates to our industry-specific rules after consulting with industry leaders and public health officials.

These updates provide more specific guidance, as well as new recommendations for a broad range of sectors. Highlights include:

New rules for Indoor Recreation and expanded guidance for Outdoor Events.

Changes impacting Offices, Personal Services, Hair Salons & Barbershops, Retail, Libraries, etc.:

Non-essential businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.

In the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19, it is recommended the business implement 24-hour passive decontamination and follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.

For bathrooms, the posting of signage encouraging reduced capacity and reminding individuals to wash their hands and wear masks is suggested.

Changes impacting Restaurants:

Servers are no longer required to wear gloves.

Indoor performances are now allowed (with the exception of musical vocalists).

Hotels are now permitted to provide non-essential services and amenities (e.g., valets, ice machines).

These and other sector-specific updates go into effect immediately. Businesses and non-profits that have already completed the self-certification process as part of Phases 1 or 2 do not need to re-register, but must comply with any new rules for their sector.

Thank you for continuing to comply with these enhance protocols as we find new and better ways to get back to work safely.


David Lehman, Commissioner





Get Ready To Wear Your Masks At Local Retail Stores

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Jul 192020

We’ve seen what happens when states open too early, and when large crowds gather without taking the necessary precautions such as social distancing and, of course, wearing a mask.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he has “no doubt” that Americans who aren’t wearing face masks, especially in large crowds, are increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Currently, you are required to wear a mask in grocery stores for the safety of others and yourself, but starting this week many local large retail stores also will enforce mask mandates to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Beginning on Monday, Walmart will become the biggest US retailer to require masks, along with CVS Pharmacy and Kroger.

On Saturday, Aug. 1, Target’s mask rule will go into effect in all stores. In a release, the company said, “This builds on the more than 80% of our stores that already require guests to wear face coverings due to local and state regulations.”

Target said it would provide disposable masks at its entrances for any customers who don’t have one. Another large retailer that announced a mask requirement is Best Buy.
These companies’ measures go beyond US federal mandates on Covid-19 safety. Although no federal mandate to wear a mask exists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says everyone “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.” The CDC said that “face coverings are meant to protect other people.

AVANGRID Companies Resume Customer-Facing Work

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Jun 192020

As Connecticut enters Phase 2 of reopening  United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas announced they will begin resuming customer-facing work that has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March, the subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) have been deferring certain non-emergency tasks that require employees to enter customer premises. As they resume these activities in the weeks ahead, employees will continue to take measures to protect themselves and the public.

“We will continue to put the health and safety of our customers and employees first as we resume the work that was deferred or otherwise impacted by COVID-19,” said Tony Marone, President, and CEO of Avangrid Networks, the parent company of UI, SCG, and CNG. “As an essential industry, much of our work has continued despite the pandemic, with our focus on continuing to ensure safe and reliable delivery of energy to customers. Today’s news will expand our work to include important customer-facing tasks that improve the customer experience.”

For UI electric customers, the work includes indoor work related to metering that requires an employee to enter a customer’s home or break social distance barriers. For SCG and CNG natural gas customers, it includes indoor leak and corrosion surveys, indoor gas meter replacements and meter relocations, as well as any required maintenance activities that will result in the temporary disconnection of gas supply and will require technicians to enter the customer premises to relight gas-burning appliances.

Employees will only work when they are able to do so safely and have the appropriate personal protective equipment. They will continue to follow practices recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and adhere to all applicable state requirements. To keep customers and employees safe, the following company protocols will remain in place:

  • Employees will engage in physical social distancing from customers and one another, and they will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever maintaining distance is not possible.
  • Appropriate PPE will be provided to employees along with guidance surrounding its use.
  • Health and safety checks will take place before employees start their shifts.
  • For work that requires entering a customer home, customers will be contacted to ensure no one in the household is showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • When necessary, the company may partner with other emergency responders to enter the location.

The timeline for resuming the work will be guided by continued assessments of needs, state guidelines, and the safety of customers and employees.

In-person Home Energy Solutions energy audits remain temporarily suspended. However, the companies are offering no-cost virtual pre-assessments for residential customers, in which qualified energy experts can conduct a virtual walkthrough of the home to identify ways to save energy. Participants will receive a bundle of energy-saving products by mail, as well as information about potential rebates on upgrades and low-energy appliances. When in-home assessments resume, customers who have received the free pre-assessment will be able to schedule one at no cost. For information, call 877.WISE.USE (877.947.3873).

SOTS Merrill’s Response To Reps’ Questions About Mail In Ballots

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Jun 082020

On June 3 we published a letter from State Reps Themis Klarides and Vincent Candelora to the Secretary of the State with questions regarding mail-in ballots.

Here is SOTS Denise Merrill’s detailed response:

Dear Representatives Klarides and Candelora

Thank you for your letter. I share your view that the right to vote is a fundamental right and the foundational basis of our democracy. Like you, I am also concerned about the administration of an election that will necessarily take place under challenging, virtually unprecedented circumstances. As you know, the COVID19 virus presents unique challenges to election administration. It is a highly communicable virus that passes via direct persontoperson contact, and disproportionally affects people over 65 and people with fairly common pre-existing health conditions (more here). This directly affects voters, poll workers, and local election officials alike, as it does the layout and operation of Election Day polling places and the availability of local election offices leading up to Election Day (we have shared the CDC polling place guidelines with local election officials and have used it to guide our planning. You can find it here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/community/election pollinglocations.html)

My staff and I worked hard to address these circumstances when we developed the plan for Connecticuts 2020 elections, and have worked with the leadership and the membership of ROVAC and the Town ClerksAssociation to determine what they need to hold safe and successful elections in August and in November. As I have said from the beginning of the crisis, the most important job of election administration in the face of the COVID19 crisis is to protect the health and safety of voters and poll workers, and to ensure that no voter has to choose between their health and their right to vote

The plan is available on my offices website, or directly at myvote.ct.gov/2020plan. The answers to the questions that you posed are below

Can you provide details regarding the cost implications of your plan to the state budget? Do you anticipate costs to the state that exceed those covered by the federal government

There is no cost implication of the 2020 election plan to the state budget. The plan is 100% paid for by the three tranches of federal funding we have received for both cybersecurity and COVID 19 relief (as I indicated in a letter to the legislative leadership of March 28, 2020, the CARES Act funding that was specifically granted to expand vote by mail options and to protect the health and safety of Election Day poll workers and voters has a 20% state match, roughly $1.08 million. The match must be met within two years, but there is still some uncertainty as to what will qualify for the match, and I and my fellow Secretaries of State from both parties have reached out to our respective congressional delegations to request that the match be lowered or even eliminated in the next round of COVID19 relief bills)

How will you choose the vendor to assist with the administration of the new ballot boxes? How will you determine which mail house to contract with to mail out the absentee ballots

The vendor we chose, American Security Cabinets (more about them here: https://americansecuritycabinets.com/), is an existing provider of secure dropboxes for elections with several California counties and other states that have more widespread use of voting by mail and already use secure dropboxes (NCSL has a list of the states that use secure ballot drop boxes here. Our main concern when we chose a vendor was to find someone with a track record in providing states with these secure drop boxes. As you know, existing Connecticut state contracting procedures allow Connecticut state agencies to do business with companies through the existing state contracts of other states

The mail house vendor is not yet finalized, but we are looking at vendors that have a track record of providing this service for states that are at least as big as Connecticut, and are already a Connecticut state contractor and/or are approved for state contracting in Connecticut via reciprocity from another states contract

Can you please describe the security procedures for the new ballot boxes? Hocan we ensure a proper chain of custody for the ballots deposited in these new boxes

The secure dropboxes are specifically designed for elections (more here and to meet Californias stringent ballot box design and security standards (those standards can be found here. They are designed to be permanently installed, just like a USPS mailbox, or a UPS/FedEx dropbox

The absentee ballots that are delivered via the secure dropbox will be considered a return by mail. Only the Town Clerk will have the keys to open the dropbox. The federal Department of Homeland Security/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency promulgated Ballot Dropbox Guidance (can be found here that we will provide to the towns as well

What is the reasoning for utilizing ballot boxes when the United States Postal Service is available

Many voters who have voted by absentee ballot in the past have done so by physically dropping their ballots off in the Town Clerksoffice in their town. Unfortunately, Town Clerksoffices are currently largely closed, we do not yet know when they will reopen, and even when they do, some voters may feel trepidation at entering their town hall to deliver their ballots. The secure dropboxes will allow a contactless delivery of absentee ballots at town hall for those voters who would feel more comfortable delivering their absentee ballots by that method

Will absentee ballot applications be sent out to inactive voters

No. Only Active voters are eligible to vote by absentee ballot, so absentee ballot applications will only be sent to Active voters. In order for an Inactive voter to vote by absentee ballot, they must first fill out a form to rejoin the Active voter roll

Do you intend to send absentee ballot applications to a targeted set of voters if so, what will the criteria be (i.e. age)

No, absentee ballots will be sent to all eligible, Active registered voters

Will municipalities be required to designate a machine for only absentee ballots

No, they will use current law to process absentee ballots. The tabulators will continue to provide separate totals for polling place ballots and absentee ballots, as they do in every election

When will absentee ballots be tallied on Election Day or as the ballots come in or nightly

The absentee ballots will be tabulated on Election Day

What is the screening process should a voter arrive in person at the polls on Election Day who has already voted by absentee ballot

The screening process is the same as it has been for prior elections as current law already addresses this situation (see Connecticut General Statutes Title 9, Section 140c. The Election Day checklist will be premarked with those voters whose absentee ballot is received prior to Election Day and those voters will not be allowed to vote in person. Any absentee ballot that arrives on Election Day is held until after 8:00 pm when the absentee ballot is compared to the official Election Day checklist; if the voter has appeared in person in a polling place, the absentee ballot is rejected

Will absentee ballots received after 8 PM on Election Day be counted

No, under Connecticut General Statutes Title 9, Section 140b, all absentee ballots must be received by 8:00 pm on Election Day in order to be counted

Please let me know if you have any other questions that come up. I am heartened by our ability to work together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that no Connecticut voter is prevented from voting due to the COVID19 pandemic and that no one is forced to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot


Denise Merrill Connecticut Secretary of the State 





Oh No! Not The Country Fair Too!

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Jun 042020

Important Message regarding the 2020 Orange Country Fair:

The Orange Country Fair Committee is officially announcing that we will be postponing the Orange Country Fair slated to be held on September 18 – 20, 2020 to September 17 – 19, 2021.

After much consideration for the safety of the Volunteers, Vendors, Spectators, and the General Community and the uncertainty of what we would need to do to host a fair (social distancing, deep-cleaning, etc), the Committee reached the heartbreaking decision to cancel the fair.

We thank all our Volunteers, Vendors, Sponsors, and YOU, the general public, for your continued support over the years.

We look forward to seeing you in 2021 for our amazing comeback!

Orange Country Fair Committee

When Will The Library Open Again?

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Jun 032020

The staff at the Case Memorial Library, 176 Tyler City Road, Orange posted this notice on its website for all of those inquiring minds wondering when they’ll be able to return to one of their favorite town buildings:

Dear Library Patrons,

The Case Memorial Library staff is eager to open its doors to the public, but our number one priority is the safety of our patrons and staff.

We are working diligently behind the scenes to implement protocols that will allow us to restore some library services to our residents. We know that some libraries have started implementing curbside services for their residents and we plan to provide this service to Orange residents in the near future as well.

We will update you on Facebook, Orange Live, and our website as soon as we have firm dates and more information about this service. In the meantime, please keep your library materials at home; late fees will not accrue while we are closed to the public.

Stay safe.


The Case Memorial Library Staff

Georgina’s Hair Studio Ready To Open On June 2

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Jun 012020

Georgina Mauriello, owner of Georgina’s Hair Studio, 290 Boston Post Road, Orange, next to Knight’s, will open tomorrow, Tuesday, June 2, and already is fully booked.

She said it took a lot of work preparing for the re-opening after closing due to the state’s COVID-19 order back in March, but she is confident that she and her small staff are ready to comply with all the safety regulations.

“We had to order a thermometer, and we moved the stations so they are all 6-feet apart,” she said. “We no longer have a waiting area.”

All customers are served by appointment only (Click HERE and choose your day and time to make an appointment). Drive to the back of the building and call when you arrive. When your turn comes up, put on a mask (everyone must wear masks before entering) your temperature will be taken and you’ll be brought in.

If you are having something special done – coloring, perm, etc that takes extra time, you will go outside and wait until your hair is ready for the next step – This will allow another customer to come in and get a haircut.

After each customer, chairs and counters will be wiped down with bleach or another approved disinfectant cleaner and brushes and combs, scissors also will be cleaned. The floor will be swept and the next customer will be allowed in.

The new process will take some getting used to, but, with practice, it will move along like clockwork in no time.

Right now the studio will definitely be open Thursday-Saturday, check the SITE for the day to day schedule.




Obituary: Donald Blanchard, 74, Beloved Father Of Michelle Garay, Victim Of COVID-19

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May 242020

Donald P. Blanchard, 74, of Southington, passed away on Thursday, May 21, 2020, at Hartford Hospital, as a result of complications from COVID-19.

He had been the devoted husband of Sandi (Woods) Blanchard for nearly 55 years.

Donald was born on May 22, 1945, in Clair, New Brunswick, Canada to the late Philias and Jeanne (d’Arc Nadeau) Blanchard and had been a longtime Southington resident.

Donald worked as a truck driver and was a member of Teamster Local 559 for 35 years. He was also a member of Mickey’s AC and the Elks Lodge 1669 in Southington and loved NASCAR, camping, and bowling. Donald enjoyed attending daily “meetings” at Dunkin Donuts and he never met a stranger.

In addition to his beloved wife Sandi, Donald is survived by two daughters, Lisa Olson and her husband Jim of Southington and Michelle Garay and her husband John of Orange, and 4 grandchildren, Lars and Erik Olson, Ashleigh Rivera and Ariana Garay. He also is survived by two brothers, Paul Blanchard and his wife Carol of Plainville and Jeannot Blanchard of Bristol.

He was predeceased by 4 siblings. Donations in Donald’s memory may be made to St. Dominic’s Church, 1050 Flanders Rd., Southington, CT 06489.

Due to the current health concerns surrounding COVID-19, a memorial service will be announced and held at the later date. Plantsville Funeral Home has been entrusted with handling the arrangements.

For online condolences, please visit www.plantsvillefuneralhome.com.

Breaking: State Delays Opening Barber Shops And Hair Salons

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May 182020

Phase One of the state’s business re-opening plan included Barber Shops and Hair Salons.

Over the past few weeks shop owners have voiced many questions and concerns regarding safe distancing and sterilization procedures.

Today, May 18, two days before the scheduled re-opening, the governor announced that these two businesses will not be able to open until June 1.

Republican Leader Themis Klarides had this to say, “The last-minute decision to delay the opening of hair salons, less than two days before they were scheduled to go back in business, sends confusing and contradictory messages to the public.

“We can agree that personal safety and public health are our primary concerns. And, there is no universal opinion among the professionals in these fields, specifically hair stylists. We have to be sensitive to the divergence of opinions of who wants to open up now, and those who are reluctant and want to wait a bit longer.

But either the science and data exists to support public policy or it does not,” she said in a statement.


Have You Completed Your 2020 Census Questionnaire Yet?

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May 082020

The 2020 Census is easy. The questions are simple.

The census asks questions that provide a snapshot of the nation. Census results affect your voice in government, how much funding your community receives, and how your community plans for the future.

When you fill out the census, you help:

  • Determine how many seats your state gets in Congress.
  • Guide how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year.
  • Create jobs, provide housing, prepare for emergencies, and build schools, roads, and hospitals.POPULATION COUNT (NUMBER OF PEOPLE LIVING OR STAYING)We ask this question to collect an accurate count of the number of people at each address on Census Day, April 1, 2020. Each decade, census results determine how many seats your state gets in Congress. State and local officials use census counts to draw boundaries for districts like congressional districts, state legislative districts, and school districts.

    Why We Ask

    It only takes a few minutes to complete the census questionnaire. But it’s very important to you and your neighbors that you do. This is why:


    We ask for names to ensure everyone in the house is counted. Listing the name of each person in the household helps respondents include all members, particularly in large households where a respondent may forget who was counted and who was not.


    We ask about the sex of each person to create statistics about males and females. Census data about sex are used in planning and funding government programs, and in evaluating other government programs and policies to ensure they fairly and equitably serve the needs of males and females. These statistics are also used to enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination in government programs and in society.


    We ask about the age and date of birth to understand the size and characteristics of different age groups and to present other data by age. Local, state, tribal, and federal agencies use age data to plan and fund government programs that provide assistance or services for specific age groups, such as children, working-age adults, women of childbearing age, or the older population. These statistics also help enforce laws, regulations, and policies against age discrimination in government programs and in society.


    We ask about whether a person is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin to create statistics about this ethnic group. The data collected in this question are needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.


    We ask about a person’s race to create statistics about race and to present other statistics by race groups. The data collected in this question are needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. State governments use the data to determine congressional, state, and local voting districts.


    Our goal is to count people once, only once, and in the right place according to where they live on Census Day. Keeping this goal in mind, we ask this question to ensure individuals are not included at multiple addresses.


    We ask about the relationship of each person in a household to one central person to create estimates about families, households, and other groups. Relationship data are used in planning and funding government programs that provide funds or services for families, people living or raising children alone, grandparents living with grandchildren, or other households that qualify for additional assistance.

    Key Facts About the Census

    The basics

    ● The census counts every person living in the United States, regardless of age or
    citizenship status, every 10 years in years ending in 0.

    ● It’s in the Constitution.

    It’s important

    ● It’s about money, power, and data.

    ● Every 10 years we help decide how taxpayer dollars come back to our communities. The 2020 Census will help to distribute billions of dollars in federal resources to your community.

    ● Our community gets resources based on census population counts, that help pay for hospitals, emergency services, schools, roads, and more.

    ● An accurate and complete census helps businesses, community leaders and elected officials make informed decisions every day.

    It’s easy

    ● For the first time, people can respond online and by phone, in addition to the mail-in option. Your response impacts funding for your community for critical services for the next 10 years.

    ● The next decennial census happens in 2030.

    It’s safe and confidential

    ● Your data is protected and it’s confidential. Federal law protects your responses, which cannot be shared with law enforcement, immigration agencies, or housing authorities.

    COVID-19 & the 2020 Census

    ● The 2020 Census is underway and the most important and safe thing you can do is respond online, by phone, or by mail. It has never been easier to respond to the 2020 Census.

    ● Responding now will minimize the need for the Census Bureau to send census takers out into communities to follow up with households.

    ● Please check this page regularly for updates and adjustments in response to COVID-19.

    See the latest status of operations & current timeline.