ctnewsjunkie file photo
Gov. Ned Lamont (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Ned Lamont is increasing the amount businesses can be fined for violating COVID-19 rules, including capacity limits, from $500 to $10,000.

The 82nd executive order will go into effect at midnight Thursday.

“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. “While the overwhelming majority of businesses in Connecticut have shown an incredible amount of leadership and have been fantastic partners in this front, we have 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.”

Lamont spent some of his press briefing Monday warning people that the limit for Thanksgiving gatherings in private homes is 10.

Lamont said he worries that increases in social and commercial activity during the holiday season will likely drive more traffic to gatherings and commercial establishments and increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission in crowds. That’s why he’s using his authority to limit the size of the gatherings and increase fines.

“Particularly as we approach Black Friday and the start of the holiday shopping season, we want to stress the importance of following public health protocols to protect both customers and workers,” Lamont said. “Working together, we can get the spread of COVID-19 under control while mitigating the impact that it is having on our economy.”

Fines for violations can be issued by local health directors or municipal designees, with the support of law enforcement. Other fines that remain in effect for violations of the state’s COVID-19 rules include $500 for organizing an event over capacity limits, $250 for attending events over capacity limits, $100 for failure to wear a face mask or covering when in public, and up to $500 for violations of the state’s travel advisory.

Incoming House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said the $10,000 fine is “a punch in the gut to the state’s business community.”

“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,” Candelora said. “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.”

Candelora owns Taconic Wire, a stitching wire manufacturing business and he operates the Connecticut Sportsplex.

On Monday Lamont suspended all club sports and recreational leagues, which forced Candelora to essentially cancel all events at the Connecticut Sportsplex with little warning.

“All leagues, rentals and reservations have been paused until further notice,” a message on its website states.  That’s even though an engineering report on the indoor air quality of the air supported structure found that they have a “minimum of 50 times more outside fresh air,” than a classroom.