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Lamont Hopes To Keep Connecticut Retail Going Through COVID Spike

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Kathy Willens
/
AP

The Connecticut Retail Merchants Association told state leaders on Thursday that they’re running out of options, especially as COVID-19 cases are on the rise. They said many retailers won’t survive if more cases shut down the state.

Governor Ned Lamont said the state is more prepared this time. He doesn’t plan on increasing coronavirus restrictions and said businesses can expect financial support, if retailers can do their part.

"Making sure that people keep their distance, making sure that people keep the masks, making sure that they get the markers as they get to the cashiers, doing pick-ups sometimes wherevers that’s necessary. I do strongly believe that we’ll be able to keep retail going even as infection rate potentially goes up," Lamont said.

The state has taken applications for a program that gives $5,000 grants to businesses with less than 20 employees. Connecticut also introduced a shared-work program that can help retail businesses from laying off workers.

Lamont said the state will not be raising taxes to cope with the economic impact of the pandemic if federal aid does not come. Instead, he’ll resort to the state’s rainy day fund.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he’ll urge for another round of federal aid before the end of the year.

"It's going to be a lot harder, especially on the hospitality side, for folks to keep doors open as they can’t do any outdoor vending or customer service," Murphy said.

The federal funds would also help distribute unemployment benefits, as 12 million people nationwide are expected to run out of jobless benefits before Christmas.

Murphy said federal assistance might be an easier pass for Democrats now that Joe Biden will become president. However, he said President Trump remains an obstacle, stalling negotiations with Congress and stonewalling Biden’s transition team.