Four quick questions with DECD Commissioner David Lehman
Capitol news and notes
COVID-19 updates from around the state
CRMA news and notes
 

  • We begin this week’s FF with our recent conversation with Commissioner of DECD David Lehman. Commissioner Lehman is a key advisor to Governor Lamont and has been a good friend to the CRMA.
  • He has been very supportive and responsive to our needs. He may not have been able to give us all that we wanted, but during this COVID crisis he has always been open to hear our concerns.
  • We wanted to speak to the Commissioner as we head into the Labor Day weekend, knowing that we are about to enter another new phase of the COVD -19 crisis in CT.

 

CRMA President Tim Phelan had an opportunity to talk with the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, David Lehman, about the retail industry’s response to the pandemic, and what he anticipates in the final quarter of this year.

CRMA’s exclusive Q&A with Commissioner Lehman:

CRMA:  Since the re-open of Connecticut’s economy in May, overall, how would you rate Connecticut retailers performance in complying with the rules that you have put into place?

Cmmsr. Lehman: My feeling is that retailers in general are doing a good job, but admittedly it is hard to speak in concrete terms about performance without metrics.  I can tell you that grocery stores represent 8% of our complaints and 73% of those complaints were about not enforcing mask wearing.  But again, that is not a clear indicator of compliance with the rules.

CRMA: As you know, for retailers the 4th quarter, particularly the Christmas season, is critical to many retailers ability to stay in business. If all the state’s “numbers” remain stable, do you anticipate any changes in the Sector Rules for Retail/Malls guidelines to permit increased capacity levels for in-person shopping?

Cmmsr. Lehman: As with every industry we are continuing to follow the data and loosen restrictions where we can. It is extremely hard to predict what the data will be in the 4th quarter but if the numbers continue to stay low it is something that we would be open to discussing with industry. 

CRMA: There was a recent story in the HBJ that said that Connecticut’s economy is back to about 86% of pre-COVID levels. Outside of continuing to social distance and mask wearing, etc., what other measures are you considering to bring Connecticut back to 100% pre-COVID economic conditions?

Cmmsr. Lehman: The reality of this pandemic is that it will be extremely difficult get the economy back to 100% pre-COVID economic conditions without a vaccine. That being said, we continue to engage with industry to understand what’s working well, what is not working well and loosen restrictions where we can based on the most updated information on the virus and its spread throughout Connecticut.

CRMA:  What would have to happen for Connecticut to shut down much of our economy again, like we did in March? And if that did happen, would you look to re-engage the Re-Open Advisory Board for input and guidance?

Cmmsr. Lehman: The goal has always been–and continues to be–to allow as much of the economy to be open as possible. I think rather than shutting different industries down, we would look at tightening the rules and potentially decreasing capacity as a first step.  

 

Capitol news and notes 

  • Earlier this week the General Assembly and the Governor had a conversation about extending the Governor’s Executive Order authority, which was scheduled to expire September 9, 2020.
  • First, a quick background on the issue: Back in March, when the General Assembly was in regular session they voted to form a 10 member committee (Democratic and Republican legislative leaders, plus chairs and ranking members of the Public Health Committee) to work with the Governor on issues that would come up during the crisis.
  • They also granted the Governor authority to make decisions without legislative approval, thru Executive Order, which he did on matters such as wearing masks, closing retail stores and bars, limiting large gathers, etc.
  • With the September 9th deadline approaching, the legislature had a decision to make. Do they extend the Governor’s authority or do they limit it?
  • The Democratic Majority agreed with the Governor to extend his authority.
  • GOP legislators, while not necessarily opposing the extension, felt strongly that the committee should meet and at least debate the issue before extending the Governor’s authority.
  • After two days of back and forth in the press, the Democrats agreed to a meeting to formalize the extension, which was held today. Just as FF was going to press, the committee of 10 voted, 6-4 along party lines, to extend the Governor’s authority until February 9, 2021.
  • Our friend Mark Pazniokas at the CT Mirror has a look at this issue. You can go here for that.
  • Meanwhile, we keep hearing that there will be a special session of the General Assembly in September.
  • We will keep you updated on what we hear on what issues that may come up during this session. 

 

CRMA news and notes:

  • With Labor Day upon us, we turn our eyes towards our fall calendar and remind folks that we are holding our annual Golf Outing again this year. As we mentioned in last weeks FF, we had to move the event to October this year.
  • October 13th to be exact – and we hope you will be able to join us. If you would like to join us, you can register online by visiting our website, crmaonline.com or you can email us at tim@crmaonline.com
  • Also, a reminder that we will be hosting an important webinar on how retailers can navigate thru this COVID -19 period and continue to serve your customers.
  • On September 16th, we will be co-hosting a webinar called “Adjusting to The New Normal of Retail – Contactless Commerce”
  • Look for more information in your in-box soon on how to register for that.
  • Finally, we are also moving forward to hold our annual Awards Luncheon this fall. But, like everything in this crazy COVID 2020 year, it will be different than in years past, and planning is getting underway.
  • We promise that we will work hard to put together an event that celebrates retail and all the good work that you do everyday to make your business and communities thrive. 

 

COVID -19 news around the state

  • Connecticut’s COVID case numbers remain low. The notable flare-ups this week have been at a nursing home and hospital in Norwich.  The Norwich Bulletin reports the latest information here.
  • Connecticut has added Alaska and Montana to the state’s travel advisory quarantine list, which now includes 30 states and 3 territories. The Courant has the update here.
  • As of yesterday, there were 65 individuals in Connecticut currently hospitalized with COVID-19. The latest numbers from the state can be seen here.

 

CRMA’s Friday Facts is sponsored by the law firm of Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg & Knuff.  Based in Milford, the firm specializes in Business Litigation, Land Use and Real Estate, Employment Disputes, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Responsive and personalized service has been their hallmark for more than 40 years.  Learn more at https://www.hssklaw.com/   Thank you for supporting CRMA and Connecticut’s retailers!