Connecticut relaxes capacity restrictions in Phase 3

Despite the changes, Quinnipiac’s policies remain strict as it shifts to a ‘yellow alert’ level

Emily DiSalvo and Emily Flamme

Connecticut’s reopening plan will advance to Phase 3 on Oct. 8, expanding capacity in restaurants, hair salons, indoor performing arts centers and libraries as well as outdoor event venues like theaters. 

“The reason why we are able to have a discussion about even entering into Phase 3 is because of Connecticut residents’ collective actions to fight the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a press release. “By taking the sector rules seriously, wearing masks, physically distancing, and washing your hands regularly, I believe that we can continue to keep these rates low while also easing some of the restrictions that were enacted earlier this year. I applaud the residents of our state for what they’ve been doing, and urge them to keep it up.”

John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations at Quinnipiac University, said that despite the updates on the state level, the restrictions at Quinnipiac will remain the same. 

The statewide changes come in the midst of a climb in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations statewide. This rise in cases across Connecticut comes at the same time as an increase in cases at Quinnipiac, where the current total is 11 positive cases, 10 of which were in the last seven days. Quinnipiac has moved to a “yellow alert” campus risk level, which means increased testing for off-campus students and increased vigilance about mask-wearing. 

The Phase 3 changes will relax certain criteria for local businesses, even as Quinnipiac is trying to become stricter. According to an email from Sept. 24, Tom Ellett, chief experience officer, 23 Quinnipiac students were suspended and pending conduct hearings after violating visitor policies.

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Under Phase 3 regulations, restaurants and hair salons can increase capacity from 50% to 75%. However, like Quinnipiac, many local spots are choosing to keep their rules the same.

Eli’s Restaurant Group on Whitney Avenue, a popular spot for Quinnipiac students, stated it will be keeping its capacity at 50%.

The same goes for L’Elegance salon on Whitney Avenue because the salon does not have enough room to maintain distance with a higher capacity. 

According to state guidelines, outdoor event venues like amphitheaters and race tracks can increase from 25% capacity to 50%. Indoor concert venues can also increase to 50%.

As for personal gatherings, the maximum number of people allowed at a personal residence is 25. Phase 3 also allows for graduations, as long as there are no more than 200 people in attendance. 

Quinnipiac’s visitor policies remain the same — there cannot be more than 10 people from the same residence hall in any one dorm room, all with masks and social distancing in place.     

Outdoor gatherings cannot exceed 16 people, and everyone must social distance and wear a mask.            

Bars and nightclubs, which are popular among college students, will remain closed all across Connecticut. 

Kaitlin McCory, sophomore finance major, said keeping bars and nightclubs closed is a smart decision. 

“If one person were to go into any place and are not aware they have (COVID-19), they could spread it rapidly throughout,” McCory said. 

As someone who works in the service industry, sophomore mechanical engineering major Napoleon Stardellis said he is concerned about Connecticut reopening to Phase 3 because of the increase in cases. 

“As the cases are starting to increase, I am more nervous about my own safety and the safety of our guests,” Stardellis said. 

Quinnipiac’s change to a “yellow alert” is worrisome to McCory. She said the university should change some of the policies to improve the situation.

“I do not believe (the university) has to line up with Phase 3,” McCory said. “I feel that to keep us safe, we either have to keep the rules for COVID-19 how they are right now or make them even stricter because of the spike.”