Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has issued an executive order, to take effect Thanksgiving Day, that sets a fine of $10,000 for businesses that violate his Chinese coronavirus restrictions.
Lamont’s 82nd executive order, released Tuesday, states businesses that violate “the size or capacity limitations,” as determined by the state’s commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), “shall be subject to a civil penalty in the amount of $10,000.00 per violation.”
The order raises the fine for violating the rules from $500 to $10,000.
It further states the fine “may be imposed by a Local Health Director, District Health Director, or a Municipal Designee appointed” under a previous executive order.
“The enforcement authority granted herein to a Local Health Director or District Health Director shall not be limited to a Public Health Facility,” the order adds.
“The sector rules and capacity limits we’ve implemented are intended to mitigate the spread of this disease to the greatest extent possible,” Lamont said in a press statement Tuesday, adding his administration has “seen a small number of businesses in flagrant violation of these public health rules, and that’s all you need to cause a super-spreading event that leads to a large number of cases and hospitalizations.”
“Increasing compliance with the protocols we’ve already enacted is an important responsibility in keeping our communities safe,” the governor said. “We want to do everything we can to mitigate the further spread of this virus while avoiding the implementation of more restrictions or lockdowns on our already hard-hit economy and small businesses.”
While the order exempts “private gatherings at private residences, religious and spiritual gatherings, and graduations” from the fines, these events will still “continue to be subject to infractions for violations of sector rules and other COVID-related [Chinese coronavirus] orders,” the press statement says.
Incoming House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora (R) said the increase in the fine from $500 to $10,000 for businesses is “a punch in the gut to the state’s business community,” reported CTNewsJunkie.
Candelora criticized Lamont’s approach of attempting to frighten business owners into compliance:
Scaring employers into compliance with the threat of a big fine isn’t what’s needed, and this path will only erode what little confidence they have in state government’s ability to help them through a period of recovery. What’s been missing all along is clarity from the governor, and a concrete plan to perform some actual enforcement. This decision fails to address those critical issues and, unfortunately, will leave many business owners feeling more vulnerable than ever.
At the same time, Lamont is pushing his “Step Up Connecticut” program, seeking volunteers, especially college students home from school, to help out with taking swabs for coronavirus tests.
.@GovNedLamont is encouraging residents, especially college students who are heading home to #CT for break, to look for ways to help out during the pandemic through the Step Up CT program. https://t.co/bBagwxkTfs
— CT for Business (@CTDECD) November 24, 2020
“Look, you could binge-watch Netflix for three weeks, but we have some other ways you could really be of assistance, helping your entire community getting through this pandemic,” the governor said, according to WTNH News.
Other fines for violations of pandemic rules include $500 for organizing an event over regulation capacity limits; a maximum of $500 for violating Connecticut’s travel advisory; $250 for attending events over regulation capacity limits; and $100 for failure to wear a mask in public.
Last week the Lamont administration also announced masks would be required to enter gyms and fitness centers, reported WTNH News.
Additionally, the governor put a stop to all club and other team sports until January 2021.
As of Tuesday, the Lamont administration has counted a total of 107,280 confirmed and probable cases of the Chinese virus, 891 total hospitalized with the virus, and 4,881 deaths associated with it.