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Who will show up, as Connecticut reopens?

It turns out going into to pandemic lockdown was relatively easy. It is the reopening that is turning out to be tricky.

Back in March, it seemed like we were being chased by a flame-breathing monster that was gaining on us. We all did what we were told and hunkered down.

Remember how easy it was for Republicans and Democrats in Washington to then agree on the first $1 trillion relief package? Now they are back to bickering, this time over a House-led plan by Democrats for another $3 trillion and more of those now-forgotten $1,200 stimulus checks, while Senate Republicans balk.

Here in Connecticut, it's been an especially chaotic preamble for Wednesday's first phase of reopening, with Gov. Ned Lamont reversing himself already, first on whether salons could use hair dryers, saying finally they could, before then putting all haircutting back on hold.

Connecticut Republicans have begun carping at Lamont for his pandemic decisions.

The general counsel and vice president of Mohegan Sun sent out a letter last week announcing a partial reopening of the casino June 1, according to reporting in The Day, a reopening that would contradict the governor's wishes.

Then the tribal chairman contradicted the tribe's lawyer Monday and said no reopening date has been set.

One would assume the lawyer wasn't making up the June 1 reopening date, and the tribe backed down after the governor balked about its plans.

Soon we will see who will turn up when retail stores reopen and restaurants launch outdoor dining.

Polls suggest turnout will be light for outdoor dining. People remain nervous.

Never mind the virus, it is still chilly around here once the sun begins setting.

Still, I have been following the setups for new outdoor spaces at many restaurants and it looks promising. S&P Oyster Restaurant and Bar in Mystic has impressively expanded its outdoor patio into three parking spaces, now landscaped and organized with five cafe tables.

I wish them all luck and good business.

I worry for the employees who have been called back to work and remain concerned about their age, underlying medical conditions or family at home who may be susceptible.

Lamont, in response to reporters' questions, said last week he would consider some continuing unemployment relief for people with health concerns and older workers who are called back.

I reached out to the Connecticut Department of Labor on Monday to find out what that might be and did not hear back from anyone. I guess there isn't any.

Some employees with dependents, collecting $749 weekly in maximum unemployment and another $600 through July from the federal stimulus bill, will take home less when they go back to work.

Many don't have much choice.

Wear a mask at a restaurant when you are not actually eating, and tip well.

This is the opinion of David Collins. 


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