With hotels, lodging opening again, New Britain, Bristol business leaders hope local economy will get boost

Published on Tuesday, 16 June 2020 17:29
Written by Catherine Shen


Gov. Ned Lamont said during a news briefing Tuesday that since phase one’s reopening on May 20, the numbers for hospitalizations and positive cases continues to have a downward trend, which allows the state to feel confident in moving forward with phase two, which begins Wednesday.

Justin Malley, director of Bristol’s economic and community development office, said one of the critical points for this next step is to see how comfortable the community is to go out and start supporting local businesses.

“Hopefully with the phased approach, people will become more comfortable with getting out there,” he said. “The thing is, each sector works off each other. If businesses start humming again, that will trickle down to our hotels and start having more people make reservations to either come visit or do business.”

Hotels throughout Connecticut will begin welcoming guests Wednesday as the state continues lifting reopening restrictions for phase two.

While it is a good sign for the economy that hotels and various businesses are phased to reopen, Bill Moore, president of New Britain’s Chamber of Commerce emphasized the importance of being careful and cautious during the process.

Because all businesses, including hotels and lodgings, have to be certified prior to reopening, Moore said he has faith business owners are doing what they need to do to ensure the safety of employees and customers. But he cautions those who are “just filling out the paperwork” that there is enforcement and if they are cited for negligence, the business will suffer a negative impact.

Employers are responsible for providing personal protection to their employees. Under state guidelines, customers are also required to bring and wear face masks while in common areas, unless they have a medical condition where face masks will have a harmful effect.

“Cleanliness and hygiene will be on the forefront of people’s minds,” Moore said. “We are still in a COVID-19 situation and have to follow protocols for both business owners and customers. I strongly suggest if people are traveling that they self-quarantine afterward. Until we’re really over the hump, the CDC said that is still the best practice.”

With all the changes and initial hesitancy from customers, Moore said it will take some time for businesses to recover and for people to become comfortable.

“The rule of the day is doing everything carefully,” he said. “A slow reopening is a good thing if everyone can maintain proper social distancing and adhering to all the guidelines.”

Under state guidelines, the most important consideration will be the health and safety of employees and guests. All hotels and lodgings have to exercise caution throughout the reopening phases and ensuring strict adherence to all protocols listed by the state. Officials said businesses that are not able to meet the guidelines in time for Wednesday should delay reopening until they are able.

As part of the reopening process, a thorough cleaning of facilities prior to reopening is required. Hotels are also encouraged to maintain a log of employees and guests on premise over time to support contact tracing, stagger shifts to minimize contact across employees and limit interaction with visitors and service providers on-site. Cleaning and disinfecting supplies will also be made available where possible.

Contactless payments, mobile check-in and check-out with digital receipts will be part of the new physical set up, as well as using announcement systems and screens to reinforce distancing instructions, providing disposable items when possible, removing non-essential amenities such as coffee machines, mini bars and ice machines and posting clear signage that reinforces new policies. Other non-essential services such as valet and coat-check will also be discontinued.

Looking ahead into the summer season, Malley said he expects to see a gradual increase in local tourism.

“I think more people will take more local vacations and stay within state borders, which are critical for our local hotels and beaches to start reopening safely because they all impact each other,” he said. “With that local focus, maybe one of the benefits to come out of this pandemic is to give us the opportunity to explore our own backyard a little more.”

Contact Catherine Shen at cshen@centralctcommunications.com

Posted in New Britain Herald, Business, New Britain on Tuesday, 16 June 2020 17:29. Updated: Tuesday, 16 June 2020 17:31.