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UPDATED: Lamont Extends Emergency Authority Until April 20

  • Governor Ned Lamont extends his emergency powers through April 20
  • Lamont has held emergency powers due to the COVID-19 pandemic since last spring, with an extension granted in September
  • Republican leaders ask for shorter extensions subject to full vote of Connecticut legislature

Governor Ned Lamont has extended his emergency powers through April 20, citing the continued uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the arrival of more infectious strains in the state. The move comes shortly after Lamont informed the Connecticut legislature of his intent to extend the state of emergency

Lamont has held emergency powers since March 10, one day before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This authority is set to expire on Feb. 9.

A special 10-member legislative committee now has 72 hours to decide whether to approve or reject Lamont’s action. The extension will also go into effect if the legislature takes no action.

In making the request, Lamont said it is uncertain how events will proceed in the next few months due to factors such as a new “UK variant” of the virus, which has been detected in eight New Haven County residents. This variant is more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain, but has not resulted in a higher death rate and does not impact the effectiveness of available vaccines.

Lamont also says that April 20 should be a good time to determine how the state stands on infections and vaccine distribution. The latest state update indicates a daily positivity rate of 3.67 percent, while the latest vaccine update declared the distribution of 265,947 first doses and 42,555 second doses. Connecticut is in Phase 1b of vaccine distribution, a tiered phase starting with residents ages 75 and older; 27 percent of these residents have received vaccines.

Republican legislative leaders are criticizing Lamont’s request, saying that the continuation of the governor’s emergency powers would undercut legislative efforts to address the pandemic. They are asking that any extensions be done for a shorter time period and made subject to a full vote of the legislature. They are also seeking a 10-day notification on any changes to business rules and an end to a 100-person capacity limit on places of worship.

Connecticut’s current law allows governors to declare a public health or civil preparedness emergency for up to six months. The legislative committee unanimously granted emergency powers to Lamont in March, and a five-month extension was approved along partisan lines in a 6-4 vote on Sept. 9.

Lamont’s emergency authority has weathered several legal challenges from businesses and others who dispute the governor’s ability to issue restrictions. Most recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld Lamont’s authority to shut down bars during the pandemic.

Connecticut briefly advanced its reopening plan to Phase 3 last year, but rising COVID-19 infections forced a return to a modified version of Phase 2. This includes several capacity restrictions and other rules, but Lamont has resisted calls by some in the medical community to impose tighter restrictions on areas such as indoor dining.

Lamont also said that the legislature, which is currently in session, can take action to address any executive orders they dispute. Lamont has issued 88 executive orders during the pandemic, but has not announced a new one in more than a month.

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