Esposito: Phase I reopening goes smoothly; other local businesses anxious to reopen, community pool to open in Phase II (June 20)
By Dan Nowak
CDTC Communications Staff
CHESHIRE—Chesprocott Health District director Maura Esposito said the Phase I reopening of businesses in the district’s towns of Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott went smoothly the past week, but many businesses anxious to reopen have been reaching out with questions.
“Local businesses that aren’t open are getting anxious,” Esposito said. “They see places like malls opening and they wonder why they have to wait. It’s all about the science. Malls have wide open places and social distancing is easier to do as opposed to smaller businesses with smaller space inside.
"In closed quarters, like a small business, where you are in a confined space, the risk to get the virus goes up due to the virus load and time exposure. One place anxious to reopen is Elim Park Independent Living. They put setups outdoors for visitors to visit so they can comply with social distancing. We’ve been communicating with officials there to discuss reopening guidelines.”
Chesprocott chief sanitarian Susan Lonczak said business owners are realizing that it is going to be interesting moving forward.
“Business operators are adjusting to a new normal,” Lonczak said. “They are balancing their preparation to reopen with doing things right. Salons were upset they couldn’t reopen when restaurants opened. But it helped us to have only restaurants open because we could focus on that part of the business community.
“Salons will reopen on June 1 and their operators realize new adjustments must be made. We are all communicating to see that guidelines are met, and people are safe.”
Esposito and Lonczak are also dealing with other entities that want to reopen.
“We’ve been working with the Legions of Christ with weekly meetings,” Esposito said. “They are concerned with transitioning new people into their community safely and they are doing their best to comply with guidelines. I’ve had discussions with Cheshire Community Pool director Sheila Adams and she wants to reopen.
“Sheila and I will talk this week. Pools will reopen June 20 (first day of Phase II). She has her plan on how she wants to open the pool and she has some good ideas. We are on the same page because her priority is the safety of residents. Holiday Hill has many different aspects of what they do in addition to the huge summer camps they run. They also do outing events and we will discuss what recreation thing is allowed and what isn’t allowed.”
Lonczak also said there are more public pools in addition to the Cheshire Community Pool that need to follow guidelines when they reopen.
“Public pools, like condo association pools, are all being urged to stay closed for now,” Lonczak said. “Pools will reopen in Phase II. What we are doing at Chesprocott is conducting training sessions with different businesses. We are meeting one and one with all businesses to discuss guidelines that need to be followed.
“Yoga studios, daycare centers, salons, and pool operators all have questions and discussing with us the process they have to undergo to reopen.”
Esposito said the staff at Chesprocott will do what they can to make the business reopenings go smoothly and safely.
“A lot of people are calling us to pass things through us to get an understanding of what needs to be done,” Esposito said. “There is a lot of discussion with many people. It isn’t easy for business owners. They need to adjust to the new norm. When pools reopen there must be constant sanitization and bathrooms must be constantly cleaned and sanitized.
“Social distancing has to be put in place. We have had discussions with church leaders like Cheshire Bible Chapel (Phil Belcher) and Cornerstone Church on Waterbury Road. At Chesprocott we are providing faith-based organizations and health regulated businesses with PPE when they need it.”
In other Chesprocott news, contact tracing is on hold while state officials work out the kinks to get it going. Esposito said most likely it will start on June 1.
Chesprocott public health specialist Kate Glendon has been working on Zoom support meetings and the staff has been producing videos.
Each Wednesday at 7 p.m. moving forward, in conjunction with the Cheshire Library, residents can join in a virtual Zoom discussion on how you can cope with COVID-19. You can register for the meeting by going to https://cheshirelibrary.libcal.com.
And if you think COVID-19 is all Chesprocott must worry about, think again. It is also tick season and Chesprocott will offer an information Zoom meeting for this as well. The “Everything You Need” Zoom web meeting on how to safeguard yourself from ticks will be held on June 15 at 10:30 a.m. Call 203-272-8286 to register with your email, by June 12.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.