A group of Republican state legislators released a letter that criticizes Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders shutting down some businesses and restricting the operation of others.
The letter from the state House conservative caucus this week said the governor was taking a “one size fits all approach” when the impact of coronavirus has varied greatly from county to county.
“The statewide shutdown you have imposed is unnecessarily putting an untenable strain on Connecticut businesses and institutions to the point that many will never recover,” the letter said. “People in parts of our state are being hurt more by the cure than by the illness.”
Craig Fishbein, a Republican representative from Wallingford and a conservative caucus member, said not all businesses will be able to survive until May 20, the earliest date Lamont has given for lifting restrictions.
“We don’t even know that’s going to be a firm date,” Fishbein said.
On Monday, Lamont announced the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group which includes former business leaders and health experts.
“To make the reopening of Connecticut’s economy work in the best way possible, we must strike a proper balance between public health and the economy,” Lamont said in a statement Monday.
In a press conference Thursday, Lamont outlined some of the criteria, such as declining hospitalization numbers, he’ll be using to decide whether or not to allow commerce.
Indra Nooyi, co-chair of the advisory group and former PepsiCo CEO, said the group’s goal is to reopen Connecticut’s businesses “as soon and as safely as possible.”
Nooyi said loosening restrictions too soon could allow the virus to flare up again.
“The worst outcome is reopening Connecticut and then we have to reverse direction,” she said.
Fishbein said he wanted a county-by-county approach since some areas are seeing many more infections than others. Windham county, he said, was affected very little.
“And yet their businesses are closed,” he said.
In his press conference Thursday, Lamont said there can still be contact between counties and that closures had to be statewide.
“We’re a small state,” he said.
A poll conducted by Sacred Heart University and the Hartford Courant found that 65 percent of Connecticut residents questioned were supportive of Lamont’s “overall response and handling” of the coronavirus crisis. More than 82 percent surveyed agreed with his decision to close “nonessential” businesses.
Only 45 percent of participants agreed with the way the governor is “addressing a plan for businesses in the state.”
State Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, a Republican and signer to this week’s letter, wants the state to provide guidelines and information but leave more decisions about going out or opening a business to residents. Even before the state encouraged the use of masks, people were already wearing them when going out.
“I think people are educated enough to make their own choices,” Mastrofrancesco said. “People can make their own choices on where they should go, what they should do.”
She said protecting people’s lives was important, but that their livelihoods should also be protected.
“If people’s livelihoods can’t survive, people can’t survive,” Mastrofrancesco said.
Other local representatives who signed the letter included Republicans John Fusco (Southington) and Vincent Candelora (Wallingford and Durham).