Tag Archives: Coronavirus

Quaranteen: Young Voices Heard, In Challenging Times

Tori Seiden’s COVID story begins: “It’s been 86 days since I’ve seen my boyfriend.”

She’s a gifted writer. Clearly, calmly, she describes their “long distance during social distancing” relationship. The couple — in their early 20s — go on “virtual dates.” They paint, cook, watch movies, work out, meditate, write journals, learn Spanish and design a dream Minecraft house together, though hundreds of miles apart.

Tori says the experience has taught them a lot about themselves, and each other. It’s brought them closer. They realize if they can get through this, they can surmount any obstacle.

“Of course I want to see my boyfriend,” Tori writes. “But we recognize it isn’t safe right now. So we do our best every day to make the best of things.”

It’s a mature, insightful perspective — and not the kind of story you read every day.

Most coronavirus coverage focuses on case numbers, testing, nursing homes, the economy, parenting, politics, and reopening states. They’re important parts of the pandemic picture, sure.

But what’s missing are young voices.

The Quaranteen Collection fills that void.

The crisply designed, well-written website aims to foster empathy and community — and empower — teens and young adults. Filled with stories of loss, hope, struggle, strength and growth, it’s an outlet for both self-reflection and connection with others.

Quaranteen is a safe, honest space, positive and uplifting despite the harrowing circumstances. Topics range from the impact of distance learning on special education (the writer’s brother is autistic) and the importance of self-care, to the emotions of going back to college — after weeks in isolation — to pack up a dorm room, and leave for good.

One student wrote about the transition back from college dorm life to her childhood home.

“Writing is a powerful tool that offers solace for both reader and writer,” the Quaranateen founders tell teens and 20-somethings. “In these uncertain times, your voice can make a difference in someone’s day and be a source of meaning for yourself. Share your story today; be the hope of tomorrow.”

Besides looking for young Westport writers (click here), the site has a local connection. This spring, a freshman took a writing course that showed him the cathartic power of communication. His professor grew up in Westport.

As his college closed in mid-March, the student and his friends talked about ways they could help other young adults during the coming months. They realized that the reflective process of writing could be invaluable. The idea of a submission-based site was born.

Quaranteen’s founders know that their peers experience a welter of emotions in the best of times. A pandemic makes things exponentially worse.

In the best of times too, young voices are often unheard or dismissed. As the world grapples with a deadly virus, young adults themselves may feel that their problems do not, or should not, matter.

But those experiences and problems are still real. Now — thanks to Quaranteen — anyone facing them can write about them.

And be heard.

A screenshot of the Quaranteen home page.

COVID Roundup: “Parade”; “Taps”; Restaurant Info; Kelli O’Hara; More

If you’re like many Westporters, missing today’s Memorial Day parade was tough.

If you lived near downtown though, you were in luck.

Neighborhood kids were invited to decorate bikes. They rode — appropriately apart — from Wright Street to Orchard Lane, Ludlow Road and Kings Highway North. Over 40 youngsters (and a few parents) took part.

Spectators stood on their porches, and clapped. There was a street party afterward — still socially distant, but able to celebrate in the new old-fashioned way.

(Photo/Anne Hardy)

At 3 p.m. today (Memorial Day), a bugler will play “Taps” on the plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk. It’s part of “Taps Across America,” a project initiated by CBS “On the Road” correspondent Steve Hartman.

Masked, appropriately distanced residents are invited to attend.

“Taps,” at Westport’s 2015 Memorial Day ceremony.

Todd Pines has been thinking about our dining scene. He writes:

“While restaurants are starting to open with limited capacity, most business is likely to be takeout  for the foreseeable future. Ordering through behemoth delivery services (Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc.) takes an enormous split of the tab, further challenging restaurants’ ability to survive.

“Residents should understand the small impact they can make by calling a restaurant directly, seeing if they offer their own delivery staff. You can also consider getting in your own car, and picking up your meal directly. It means a lot to the restaurant owner.”

For a deep dive into delivery services, click here.

PS: Todd adds, “For the entrepreneurial-minded, a lot of college students and high school seniors are looking for work. They could help those restaurants with delivery, pocketing the tips while not forcing restaurants to discount their tab.”

Layla’s Falafel offers great food — and they have their own delivery service. Ordering direct helps them stay in business.

Speaking of which: Winfield Street Coffee is back open, just over the downtown bridge. Hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and catering. There’s takeout, curbside pickup, delivery, and a few new seats on the sidewalk.

Also new: a “Reserved Parking/To Go Orders Only” sign, right in front. In these times when local businesses need all the help they can get — they’re getting it!

One of the underrated treasures of any Memorial Day is the PBS concert, broadcast from Washington, DC. It’s America at its best.

Last night’s show was different. The pandemic canceled the live show, so musical guests appeared on tape, from all over the country.

And right there among them was Westport’s own Kelli O’Hara. The Tony Award winner delivered a haunting rendition of “Fire and Rain.” Its refrain “but I always thought that I’d see you again” — juxtaposed against scenes of loved ones visiting graves of the men and women they’d lost — provided some of the most powerful moments of the entire evening.

And finally … as the coronavirus kept us apart today, let’s look back on a great Westport tradition. Here’s the Staples High School band in 2013, with their rousing Memorial Day “Armed Forces Salute.”

COVID Roundup: Rizzuto’s; Coffee An’; Plant Sale; More

It’s nice to hear that Westport restaurants are reopening.

It’s also nice to hear that town and civic officials are doing all they can to help.

Rizzuto’s and The Lobster Shack were back in business Friday. Owner Bill Rizzuto says, “our Planning and Zoning people and fire marshal were fantastic. And a big hats-off to Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell, who worked tirelessly to support us all.”

Rizzuto’s offers outdoor dining Monday through Thursday 4 to 9  p.m., Friday and Saturday 12 to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday 12 to 8 p.m. They’re continuing curbside service and delivery too. Click here to order.

The Lobster Shack is open for curbside pickup and delivery Monday through Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m., and Friday through Sunday, 12 to 8 p.m.

Also reopening tomorrow at 7:30 a.m.: Coffee An’!

(Photo/Katherine Bruan)

Aspetuck Land Trust — whose 40+ preserves have provided area residents with healthy, mood-lifting walking trails throughout the pandemic — is sponsoring its first-ever native plant sale.

It’s simple: Order online, and reserve a curbside pickup time. Plants can be picked up at Gilbertie’s Organics in Easton in 2 weeks.

Up to half of the purchase price is a tax-deductible contribution to Aspetuck Land Trust!

Choose from pollinator herb variety packs; pollinator garden kits; mailbox garden kits; shrubs and trees, and eco-type plants (plugs) for containers and gardens.

Prices range from $9 to $80.

Click here to order. To join a webinar this Wednesday (May 27, 10:30 a.m.) about the importance of planting natives, click here, then scroll down.

What’s a Sunday without former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb on “Face the Nation”? At least this week his live-remote hometown got a shout-out on the chyron. (Hat tip: Alan Shinbaum)

And finally … sing it, Dionne!

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 10 Gallery

Our Saturday gallery has hit double digits — in duration, that is. We’ve always shown at least a dozen works each week.

Photos, watercolors, paintings, acrylic, chalk messages and more… each week, you show off your creativity and spirit; each week, we gain insights into your moods.

Please keep sending your work. Professional, amateur, old, young — we want your paintings, collages, sketches, photos, sculptures, cartoons, whatever. Student submissions are particularly welcome.

The only rule: It must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through. Email dwoog@optonline.net.

(David Vita)

“Corona Crazy” (Laura Overton)

“Sophie in Quarantine” (Claudia Rossman)

“Time to Read,” graphite on paper (Francis Vitale)

Irene Mastriacovo says, “My yard is now my ‘go-to’ for walks. I enjoy the little things in life, like the birth of spring. The budding plants and flowers bring hope.”

Origami rug, with 2,000 birds (John Millock)

“Pandemic Provisions,” acrylic paint on cardboard box (Roberta Delano)

Artist Norah Leigh Parker turned 9 years old yesterday!

“Compo” (Lawrence Weisman)

“Protecting Our Totem” (Karen Weingarten)

Untitled (Libby Turner, age 13)

Leonor Dao Turut says, “gardening and making art keep me calm and focused amid the fears of this pandemic.”

(Amy Schneider)

No Memorial Day Parade? No Problem! Town Sets Virtual Celebration.

On Monday we won’t see military veterans, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, politicians, Little Leaguers, Suzuki violinists, or the Y’s Men’s fantastic float.

We’ll miss crowds along the parade route, a grand marshal waving to crowds, stirring speeches and mournful “Taps” across from Town Hall.

COVID has knocked out Westport’s Memorial Day traditions.

That’s okay. We’ll have a virtual Memorial Day parade and ceremony on Monday anyway.

At 9 a.m., a 17-minute video will be broadcast on Cablevision channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. It will also be available on the town website (westportct.gov), and posted on the Town of Westport Facebook page.

The video will loop all day on TV after its 9 a.m. debut. It will be available on Facebook forever too, it seems.

..A classic scene from Westport’s Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Dayle Brownstein)

1st Selectman Jim Marpe thanks the Bedford Middle School band and town band teachers, Police Department Honor Guard, and artists and crew for making the production possible.

He adds:

As Memorial Day weekend arrives during this difficult time, it is as important as ever to take a few moments to remember those servicemen and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Obviously, the current conditions in the world dictate how we memorialize and honor those veterans. In the upcoming days, I encourage everyone to reflect and give thanks to the men and women who served and continue to serve in the military. We cannot celebrate together, but we can collectively in spirit celebrate their heroism in our own individual ways.

Two years ago, grand marshal Larry Aasen spoke about the horrors of war.He’ll join many Westporters on Monday, honoring the holiday virtually. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

COVID Roundup: Reopening; Friday Flowers; Ford Escort; Donut Crazy; More

As Westport reopens, it may be hard to figure out who’s in charge of what. First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

The Westport Weston Health District licenses restaurants and the beauty industry. So the WWHD leads compliance of those state rules.

Fire Marshal Nathaniel Gibbons will lead enforcement efforts for all non-WWHD regulated industries. Efforts include conducting spot checks, referrals and coordination with the WWHD and Police Department.

The police are responsible for tracking all complaints. They’ll investigate to ensure compliance, and work with business owners to correct infractions.

The Police Department requests that reports of non-compliance or complaints about business operations should be made by phone to the non-emergency number: 203-341-6000. For complaints made to the state, call 211.

If you see penguins not following proper protocols, call the police non-emergency number.  (Photo/Marcy Sansolo)

As life — and human beings — come back to Main Street, the Westport Garden Club is making sure everything looks lovely.

Yesterday they planted flowers downtown. The project is part of “Friday Flowers,” the club’s campaign to brighten spirits with colorful flowers. Four beds on both sides of Main Street will be maintained throughout the summer and fall.

From left: Kathy Oberman Tracy, Kelle Ruden and Kara Wong. (Photo: Topsy Siderowf)

Of all the COVID-caused changes in Westport, none is starker than the scene at the Saugatuck train station. Almost instantly, what had always been better-get-there-early-for-a-spot lots turned into ghost towns. All those coveted parking permits? They’re gathering dust, as thousands of commuters work from home.

But — if you’re one of the few people who has been there knows — there is one lonely car. A Ford Escort has been there since mid-March. It sure is practicing social distance.

Does anyone know the back story? If so, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)

Meanwhile, a few yards east, Donut Crazy opened. Commuter traffic is not yet back (duh). But Juliana and Anna (below) look like they never left. Except for the masks…

(Photo/John Karrel)

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the debut of Manna Toast. Molly Healey is opening a cafe in Bedford Square in mid-July. She’s great, and it will be wonderful.

In the meantime, beginning next Tuesday (May 26) she’s delivering family-style kits that serve 4. They include ready-to-toast sourdough bread with a choice of 2 toasts (meatless meatballs, hummus, burrata or roasted squash); 1 salad (kale with tahini miso or local greens), 1 soup (creamy carrot or 3-bean chili), and 1 tea. Everyone gets 4 chocolate chip cookies.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek. It’s fantastic — flavorful, creative, fresh; something new and welcome in the midst of so much COVID sameness. But don’t take my words for it. Check it out here:

It doesn’t feel like it, but this is a holiday weekend. We’ll miss the Memorial Day parade. The weather is a bit iffy.

But Compo Beach will be open. Not at full capacity, yet. There are no picnic tables or grills. Port-a-potties only, too.

Still, the scene today was like any other start-of-summer, late May day.

If only.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

And finally … there might be a more beautiful way to end the week. But I don’t know what it is.

Everyone Into The Pool!

It’s something I’ve noticed on my daily bike rides around town: Lots of people are building swimming pools.

Ginia Bellafante noticed it too. The New York Times‘ “Big City” columnist jumps in to the phenomenon in a story for this Sunday’s edition.

With camps closed, and many people realizing they’re not going anywhere for summer vacation, the itch to swim has skyrocketed.

After noting the beach turf wars between cities and suburbs, Bellafante turns trenchantly toward pools.

Throughout Westport, backyard pools are already open.

You know what’s coming.

Midway through the story, she writes:

Traveling farther down the coast to Westport, Conn. — Cheever country — the pool obsession is no less frenetic. If you want a pool in Westport, you need a permit from the town’s building department. The number of requests has jumped this year, with 10 coming in just the past two weeks. Michele Onoforio, who works in the department, found herself really taken aback when she got three separate calls about aboveground pools recently.

Were people really that desperate? “I hadn’t seen one of these requests in 10 years,’’ she said. “I didn’t even know the protocol.’’ An aboveground pool in Westport is like a bag of Sun Chips on a table at Per Se.

Westport is one of many aesthetically pleasing places where affluent New Yorkers fleeing the infection have decamped. Some have chosen to move permanently. “The New Yorkers all want pools, and the inventory is very low,’’ Suzanne Sholes, a real estate agent in town told me. The houses that have them receive multiple offers both on the rental and sales sides despite the catastrophes afflicting the economy.

Just thing, for New Yorkers looking to leave the city.

To the rest of the country, Westport is now the town with a super-spreading party, drones that almost picked out social distance cheaters, and now a swimming pool shortage.

Something to think about, as you lounge by the water this holiday weekend.

(To read the entire Times column, click here.)

Historic Church Offers COVID Reflections

In the 309 years since its founding, Green’s Farms Church has seen a lot.

In 1779 the British burned its meetinghouse and parsonage. The current, handsome building on Hillandale Road — the 4th in the church’s history — has been there since 1853.

Green’s Farms Congregational Church

Over those 3 centuries, clergy and worshipers have weathered wars, snowstorms and hurricanes. The steeple blew down; the lights have gone out. Disease has ravaged the congregation — including the infamous influenza pandemic of 1918-20.

The latest calamity is one shared by the world: the coronavirus. To meet the moment, the church that began 78 years before the United States was born — and 124 before Westport became a town — has turned to a 21st century tool: an online journal.

An opening shot from the Green’s Farms Church’s online journal.

Two dozen people contributed insights, including church officials and congregants. They range from young families to members in their 80s. Some have been members for 50 years; others, just a few months.

All responded to the question: “What have you learned from the lockdown?”

This is not a seat-of-the-pants, let’s-fill-some-pages project. After a description of GFC’s early response to the crisis — a drive-thru food drive, YouTube Easter service, Zoom confirmation classes — the graphically gorgeous journal gets into some very impressive reflections.

Some of the musings delve into God and religion. Others do not. Some answer the prompt through a cosmic lens. Others speak of loved ones. All are wise, honest and personal.

None are quick sound bites. Each is several paragraphs long. Clearly, everyone crafted responses with care, and respect for the reader. (Big props to the copy editor, too!)

Rev. Jeff Rider notes that “being present doesn’t require being in person.” Others wrote of new principles, hope, and feeling like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”

Rev. Jeff Rider’s reflections.

Taken together, says church operations director Claire England, the journal reflects “a diversity in life experience, and in how we all experience this period differently.”

However, “all are aware of how fortunate we are if we have shelter and family to call upon, and how important it is for the church to support not only each other, but the many who are suffering around us.” The church, she notes, has stepped up its outreach sharply.

What’s online now is the first version. “That’s the way most of us are getting information and staying in community at the moment,” England says. But she’s turning it into a book, which can live much longer than pixels.

And will be available 309 years from now, for the Green’s Farms Church of 2329.

(Click here for the Green’s Farms Church Coronavirus Journal.)

COVID Roundup: Town Hall; Therapists’ Webinar; EMS Week; More

Rsetaurant, stores and offices are beginning to open. What about Town Hall?

Town staff are staggering shifts and remote work, to provide all town services to the public.

Appointments are accepted for complex matters. Staff members are doing their best to answer phone calls, and try to return all voicemails and emails within 24 hours.

Click here for a staff directory, or visit departmental pages for instructions on how to conduct business with a specific department.

Town Hall (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

As shuttered Westport businesses open up, they’ll soon welcome a newcomer.

Garelick & Herbs’ Saugatuck location — which closed in late February, just a couple of weeks before the coronavirus swept through — will become Kneads.

A sign calls it a “bakery, cafe and mill.” It’s “coming soon.”

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)

Happy EMS Week!

In honor of our great crew — especially during the pandemic — 1st Selectman Jim Marpe says: “EMS practitioners are professionals of the highest caliber; keeping up with the latest training to ensure that they know the most effective life-saving emergency treatments that will benefit us all. As dedicated first responders, Westport’s Volunteer EMS provides immediate care during a health crisis; whether there is an accident or an illness, these trained professionals work around the clock to make sure care is available quickly for all our residents and those in need.

“We in Westport join those across the nation in honoring the valuable and vital contributions that EMS practitioners provide each and every day. With gratitude and appreciation, we express our deepest thanks for all our EMS professionals do for our community.”

You’ve got relationship questions? Jennifer Strom, Samantha Lavy have answers.

Or at least, they can help you frame your thoughts better.

The local marriage and family therapists — both mothers of teenagers — see many families navigating a new world filled with uncertainty, loss and changes in routine. Teenagers in particular have lost social outlets, sports and other activities. They’re filled with questions about school and college, but lack structure and schedules.

“As we stare at screens and find ourselves with lack of connection, parenting during lockdown has become more complicated,” the therapists say. “In addition, as couples, emotions intensify.”

They’ve compiled common concerns and challenges that families face during COVID. In a pair of free webinars, they’ll outline strategies and tools they use to help manage in times of stress. During each live session, they’ll take viewers’ questions.

The topics are “Teen Stress: COVID and Beyond” (Thursday, May 28, 6 to 6:30 p.m.; click here to register) and “Couples Coping: COVID and Beyond” (Thursday, June 4, 6 to 6:30 p.m.; click here to register).

And finally … as Westport (and the rest of Connecticut) start opening up …

Retail Reopening: All The FAQs

Today was Day 1 of Phase 1: the first time since mid-March that Connecticut retailers could open for business.

But merchants can’t just fling open their doors, and customers can’t just race in.

By law, shoppers must wear masks inside stores. This is to protect themselves and employees. If customers do not wear masks, a store can be shut down.

Here — thanks to the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — is a Q-and-A about retail reopening.

Scroll to the end to find a list from the WDMA of stores they know are open today. Note: Some operate by personal appointment only. Check before you go — and wear your mask!

What do I do with items that are returned?
Assume returned items have been tried on. Quarantine them for 48 hours, or thoroughly steam clean prior to returning to the floor. Click here for very good specific cleaning/disinfecting information.

Can I allow customers to try on clothes and use fitting rooms?
Yes. Customers can now try on clothes. But any clothes tried on by a customer must either be quarantined for 48 hours or thoroughly steam cleaned prior to returning to the floor.
If a customer touches an item on the floor, do I need to pull it and put it in the back? If so, for how long?
There is no steadfast rule. The practice of having each customer sanitize their hands upon entering your store should help reduce the risks. Personal shopping appointments could also help, since associates would handle the items and they use hand sanitizer after each customer. Additionally, having associates handle merchandise would decrease the number of people touching each item, decreasing the potential transfer of germs.

Will UV light wands kill the virus? If so, can I return merchandise to the floor after using?
While UV light is effective and customary in clinical settings, there is currently no guidance for retailers to use UV for clearing at this point. We recommend waiting for specific governmental guidance before relying exclusively on this method of sterilization.
 PPE suppliers. 

Where can I get hand sanitizer,  gloves, wipes and cleaning supplies? 

Click here for PPE suppliers. Modern Plastics in Shelton can make dividers and face shields. Contact Susan Linnane at 203-403-6672 for information. You do not need to purchase from them; this is just another option provided.

If a customer comes in without a mask, what do I do? Do they have to wear a mask if it is a private appointment?
Customers must wear a mask. Stores should have a greeter to help the monitor capacity (no more than 50%). Greeters can also have the job of enforcing and/or reminding patrons of the face mask rule. Have a backup plan if a customer forgot their mask, such as offering the customer the ability to purchase a mask, a disposable mask, or curbside pickup instead. Remember: This is your store. You have the right to remind them of the rules, and politely refuse service.
Agree with your business owner what language best suits the situation. In grocery stores the precedent for wearing masks and gloves has been widely accepted. We anticipate that people entering other types of stores will be generally compliant.

Am I required to install plexiglass at registers?
The guide says to rearrange workstations to maintain 6 feet distance between customers. and to limit movement of employees within the facility. Install physical barriers for checkout where possible. Assign employees to workstations where they remain through the workday. If you can’t keep employees more than 6 feet apart, then plexiglass also needs to be set up between employees at the cash registers.

Am I required to place markers on my floor?
You must install visual distancing markers to encourage customers to remain 6 feet apart. For instance, markers should be placed outside the store for a waiting area, inside the store near the register, as lines by the restroom and in any other area where waiting is anticipated.

What does it mean exactly to “clean” my store? What is “deep cleaning,” how is it defined and how do I instruct my cleaning personnel?

Click here and here.

 What can happen if I don’t comply with these regulations?

According to the state Department of Economic Community Development, if the first infraction is not serious you would probably get a warning. However, flagrant and continued violations have the potential to be misdemeanors. Local law enforcement will have guidelines, and executive orders can result in misdemeanors or criminal charges.

Local health inspectors will also have authority to assess health risks of stores in non-compliance, and they can revoke licenses and shut businesses. They want compliance on these issues. This is not for the stores that are trying to do the right things, but the state wants a mechanism that shows the importance of these rules. The government does not want to get this wrong and have to close again, isolate again and start all over.

Can we wear the plastic face shields instead of face masks?
No. The covering must completely cover the face and nose area.

What happens if, through contact tracing, someone who was in my store tests positive for COVID?
While not an absolute requirement, it is a good idea to figure out a way to keep track of customers shopping in your store. That way, if a customer were to test positive, you would be able to take precautions to clean your store, and monitor yourself and your employees for symptoms of the virus.

Am I allowed to take temperatures before I allow customers and / or employees in my store?
It is a good idea to take the temperatures of employees before they start work each day. You cannot legally require or force employees to have their temperatures taken, but experience in stores already open show that many employees are receptive to having their temperatures taken as they want to protect their own health and safety.

While it can be a reliable screening tool, realize that it is not 100% effective at weeding out sick employees, since many COVID carriers can be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

You may also request that customers allow you to take their temperatures before entering your store. Again, legally you cannot require customers to allow you to take their temperatures, but you can strongly suggest it as part of what you want customers to do before entering your store.

How can I get a thermometer?
The State of CT has a limited number of FREE thermometers available to Connecticut businesses with 100 employees or less. They urge you to request yours ASAP, as supply is limited. Click here.

 Can I sign my customer’s initials on their credit card receipt so I don’t have to deal with them signing and touching my pens?
It is not illegal for you to do this, but with no proof of a sale, a customer could argue later they did not make the purchase. A better option may be to change the setting on the credit card reader to not require a signature for any transaction. A consistent policy may be a better option.
What happens if someone in my store gets sick or feels sick?

    • Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, and remaining employees should self-monitor for symptoms.
    • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC recommended precautions.
    • Identify and notify those who may have had contact with the employee — including colleagues, customers, visitors, and vendors — during the 14 days prior to testing positive or first displaying symptoms.
    • Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in your facility, following CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.

How does my store get self-certified, and how do I get the certificate showing I met the state requirements

    • Use this link to go to the Self-Certify Your Business Page. After successfully completing the self-certification requirement survey, you will be able to print out PDFs with your certificates, and other other signs you may hang to show consumers your compliance with Connecticut state requirements.
    • The State is providing a 211 number for citizens concerned about businesses not following protocols. It’s best to follow the rules.
  • What could I be missing as I think about reopening?
    • Check out the “Operation Open Doors – Checklist” from the National Retail Federation. It has a lot of information you may not have thought about yet including supply chain issues, managing employees and detailed lists of what and how to clean.
  • The state said retailers should get expedited approval from local governments to enable permits for shopping outside. How do I do that? 

Westport officials have said that you may bring a table outside to use as a sales area. You do not need additional permitting, but you may not block sidewalks and you must make sure there remains a safe 6-foot clearance area for passing pedestrians. We recommend you may want to use the outdoor areas for showing items to customers, offering pre-purchased item pick up, and offering other services that will help limit store capacity and indoor activities.

  • What are the 211 requirements?
    • The requirement is to have a sign saying: “Call *211 with any employee and/or consumer complaint about non-compliance with state regulations. The call goes to the state Department of Economic &Community Development.
  • Who can I call locally for enforcement issues?
    • Call the Westport Police non-emergency number: 203-341-6000.
  • How do I limit my liability from customers and employees who might contract COVID-19 at my store?
    • The best thing you can do is keep detailed records of what you are doing to comply with all of the regulations. There is not an exemption from lawsuits by executive order, but hopefully in the next month our government will pass regulations protecting those that have followed the guidelines. That is why it is imperative to keep accurate and up to date records of what and how you have done your best to remain in compliance with the regulations. Additionally, the Department of Economic and Community Development has said that it recognizes that compliance in all areas all the time will be very difficult, but showing you made significant effort is all that can be expected.
  • There will be so many masks and gloves thrown away. Can we recycle them?
    • No. The DECD says that the masks and gloves worn by consumers are potentially contaminated and should not be recycled, but rather disposed of safely.
  • Will Main Street be closed to traffic?
    • The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team and Westport DMA are drafting a procedure for closing several local streets at different times. It will be presented to local officials. Local government has committed to helping make this happen soon.
  • What are Connecticut state sign requirements?
    • Social distancing protocols
    • Cleaning and disinfection protocols
    • Personal protection protocols (face masks, gloves) for customers and employees
    • Employee shall stay home if sick/experience symptoms
    • Customers shall not enter if they are experiencing symptoms.
  • Links to posters that may be helpful to hang at your store:



  • Will Main Street be one-way or alternate day openings so there is more room for customers?
    • The Re-Open Westport Advisory Committee and Town officials will be considering this option.


  • Will there be a good place for employee parking so there is more parking for customers and they have more room?The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team and town officials will consider this option.


  • I still have questions or a very specific question. Who can I contact?
  • For specific questions related to small business, email the Joint Information Center at COVID19.JIC@ct.gov, or call the DECD small business hotline at 860-500-2333.



General Health Guidance:

  • If you feel at all unwell or have been exposed to a person who is sick or quarantining pending a test result, please do not go out in public to our retail community.
  • Compliance with this primary consideration protects other customers and the workers who are restarting our economy and making it possible for all of us to enjoy shopping again.
  • Remember: it’s not only you that you are protecting. By following the guidelines, you help protect our elderly citizens, those with existing health conditions and other individuals that shop after you.


  PPE – Wear it. It’s the law!   

  • Always wear face masks or coverings over nose and mouth as you shop – either disposable or freshly laundered fabric masks/coverings. This is a legal requirement for entering retail stores.
  • Stores will have hand sanitizer available to patrons at entry. Be prepared to use it each time you enter a store. Using disposable gloves is also an option, but you will still need to use sanitizer to change gloves at each store to avoid contamination.
  • Expect store door greeters to monitor your mask and hand sanitizing as well as  limit the number of patrons in stores to 50% capacity at any given time.


Be Prepared When You Shop:

Whenever possible, preview your needs online first so you know what you are seeking. You can call the store and ask to have the items put aside for you. Knowing SKUs, style names, colors and sizes can help speed the process considerably.

Limit your touching to items you are most likely to purchase. By limiting the number of items touched by each individual, we decrease potential contamination and also help our retailers decrease their cleaning needs and limit the inventory they need to remove from their shelves.

Enjoy shopping again, and embrace initial restrictions. If we embrace these restrictions and enable a safe and healthy reopening of businesses in Phase 1, we can expect to see more businesses reopen.

Don’t expect to browse and socialize when you shop initially. Limit the time you spend in a store. Less time in a store means lower risk of contamination to you, to employees, and to the items in the store.

Shopping – A New Experience:

Be patient and be kind. Retailers and employees are working hard to help you. Everyone is trying to adjust and adapt to this new world. Helping each other and supporting each other right now is very important. Understand that things may be slower or more difficult, but know that it is being done for everyone’s protection.

Refer to Westport Marketplace frequently (launching soon) for the latest information on the status of retailers, restaurants, salons, and more.

While stores are allowed to open May 2, many stores will choose to only continue to offer curbside pick up for prepaid items in the near term. This is okay too. Don’t forget to continue supporting the retailers you love that are not physically open yet, but have continued to find a way to get you their products.

·Stores that choose to operate in-store shopping will be following state issued rules. Expect social distancing and wear PPE.

Stores have had to certify with the state that they will follow rules in order to be open. If you are uncomfortable following the protocols, you may continue to shop online, through curbside pick up or by other shopping services.

If you feel a store is intentionally not following re-opening rules (not a mishap or a situation caused by another shopper), express your concerns by calling 211.

More changes will come. Please be flexible and understanding, and be prepared to make more adjustments. For instance, the state government may allow stores to set up outside tables to enable shopping and payments.

Be aware that retailers may change their return policies because of COVID-19 safety issues and the stringent return protocols. Know the rules before you buy.


Where can I find the latest State rules for reopening?


COVID-19 Resources

Where can I find details on protocols for high risk areas. Bathrooms, elevators, stairwells, common spaces, etc.?

This has very detailed instructions for cleaning many facilities and areas considered to be high risk. Many resources are outlined toward the bottom of the page.


Where can I get advice on the layout of my office spaces, choice of furniture and screens etc.?


If I want to test my employees for antibodies, can the town provide?

The town does not provide antibody testing, but there are a number of testing sites available and some may provide antibody testing also. Testing sites can be found at the following link: http://wwhd.org/coivd-19-testing-sites/

Is my landlord responsible for the new standards of cleanliness for my building, stairwells, elevators, bathrooms etc? What constructive actions can I take if they fail to meet this responsibility?

The landlord, tenants, and citizens are all in this together. Landlord and tenant responsibilities are typically spelled out in individual leases. COVID19 does not change that relationship. Landlords are expected to meet any new cleanliness standards for the areas they are responsible for to re-open their buildings. Failure to comply could result in closure of the building.

The following stores are open as of today. Some may be by appointment only. Call ahead!

  • Albe Furs
  • Anthropologie
  • ASF
  • Bungalo
  • Catherine H
  • Choice Pet
  • Cotelac
  • Compo Flowers
  • Earth Animal
  • Faye Kim
  • Fleet Feet
  • Great Stuff
  • Kerri Rosenthal
  • Le Rouge Chocolates
  • Lillian August
  • Mitchells
  • Nic+Zoe
  • Noya
  • Organachs Farm to Skin
  • Plumed Serpent
  • Pottery Barn
  • Sam Sloat Coins
  • Savannah Bee
  • She La La
  • Silver Ribbon
  • Soleil Toile
  • Southern Tide
  • Splash of Pink
  • Swoon
  • Terrain
  • The Fred Shop
  • West
  • Westport Yarns