Lamont considering bringing back travel restrictions

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont is considering reimposing restrictions for travelers arriving from states with high rates of COVID-19.

Lamont told reporters Wednesday he is at least a week away from making a decision, and said he is consulting the governors of Connecticut’s three neighboring states about possibly setting a regional policy.

The Democratic governor lifted a travel advisory March 19 that had required all travelers and returning Connecticut residents to quarantine for 10 days or until they tested negative for COVID-19.

Lamont said he is thinking of reinstituting travel restrictions because of spiking infection rates in some states.

“We haven’t made up our mind on that. We’re thinking about it,” he said following an appearance at Capitol Community College in Hartford. “We’ve got states like Arkansas, Missouri and Florida where the infection rate is 10 times ours. So, it is something we ought to be looking at and we will be.”

Connecticut’s positive test rate declined from a two-month high of 2.7% on Tuesday to slightly less than 2% on Wednesday. In contrast, the latest available statistics had positive test rates of 8.8% for Arkansas, 14.2% for Missouri and 11.2% for Florida.

Lamont initially imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions in late June 2020 in conjunction with New York and New Jersey.

The first iteration of the travel advisory applied to states that either had more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% positive test rate on a rolling seven-day average. It later was modified to apply to all domestic and foreign travelers arriving from any location.

At first, visitors and returning Connecticut residents from states that met either seven-day measure were supposed to quarantine for 14 days unless they tested negative for COVID-19 within three days of traveling, or they tested negative within that two-week time frame.

The travel advisory was modified last December to require all domestic and foreign travelers quarantine for 10 days, or until a negative COVID-19 test result. The policy exempted the states of New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

If Lamont imposes travel restrictions, a select committee of the six top leaders of the state House and Senate could block the move. A temporary oversight provision that was added to the public health and civil preparedness emergency statutes in May gives the bipartisan panel 36 hours to reject new emergency orders.

State health officials Wednesday reported 228 new cases. There now have been 351,530 confirmed and probable cases reported since March 2020. There also was a net increase of four patients hospitalized with the virus for a total of 58 statewide.

State health officials reported there have been 3,589 COVID-19 cases in Naugatuck, 956 in Prospect and 575 in Beacon Falls since last March.

There have been 93 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck, six in Beacon Falls and five in Prospect, according to state officials.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.