Emergency Management Director: Eating in Restaurants Prohibited; Gyms, Movie Theater, Playgrounds Closed


No one may eat inside New Canaan food service establishments as of Monday due to the COVID-19 virus, officials say, and The Playhouse movie theater, commercial gyms, and the playgrounds at town parks also are closed.

Nail and hair salons may continue to operate by appointment and restaurants may continue to offer curbside pickup and delivery, Emergency Management Director Mike Handler said in a town-wide voice call and email. 

“[O]ur parks will remain open and we encourage their use provided people are not gathering in groups,” Handler said in the message. “These actions will remain in effect until further notice and as we gain greater visibility, we will certainly advise everyone. Clearly, these actions are being taken because we are serious about discouraging mass social contact.”

He added, “On a separate note, we are aware that there are many rumors circulating that involve specific businesses and individuals. Please remember that this type of behavior, while commonplace, is distracting to our team and destructive to our community. We trust we can count on everyone to be sensitive and compassionate in this time of stress.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what Handler was referring to. 

The prohibition from “all in-restaurant and outside service” came “by order of the Director of Health,” Handler said.

His message came two days after town leaders declared a local state of emergency, with police and other municipal officials urging residents to limit interactions in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 virus in New Canaan.

What locals do over the several days “will have a massive impact on the local and perhaps national trajectory of this pandemic,” Handler said in a Saturday message. 

“When we say people should not be gathering in groups, we are referring to adults and children, both out in town and in private homes,” he said. “We cannot stress this enough. We did not close our schools to make room for house parties and group playdates. The actions that we all take today have serious consequences for our seniors and medically fragile tomorrow.”

Following directives from federal and state health officials, New Canaan last week began to under major community-wide change, with the closure of public schools and launch of a learn-from-home program for students, and closures until further notice of organizations such as New Canaan Library, Grace Farms, New Canaan Museum & Historical Society and Lapham Community Center. 

New Canaan Police through Instagram on Saturday urged residents to “heed the recommendations of the CDC and other health and government officials as it relates to the Coronavirus.”

“[S]ocial distancing is about helping other individuals—not just yourself,” NCPD said in the post. “Additionally, we are asking parents to ‘just say no’ to their children in respect to spending time in groups with friends. This suggestion would include avoiding parties and dinners together with groups of friends and even hanging out in groups outside. The schools were closed to create social distancing and slow the spread. Parents, please follow this example and keep children home. Social media, Group Facetime, Skype etc will still allow your children to get face time with friends but in a much safer platform than in person.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention tips include washing hands with soap and water, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, going to the bathroom and before eating or preparing food, as well as covering up when coughing or sneezing, the CDC said. As of Sunday evening, state officials said Connecticut had 26 confirmed cases.


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