Report by Paula Antolini, April 10, 2020, 2:00PM EDT
Order Also Permits Food Trucks at Certain Highway Rest Areas, and Modifies Educator Certification Testing
Governor Ned Lamont today announced he has signed an executive order that enacts a series of protections for residential renters struggling to pay their housing costs during the COVID-19 emergency, ensuring that they will not be evicted during this nationwide crisis and receive grace periods over the next several months. The order also extends all previously enacted closures, distancing, and safety measures – including for schools, restaurants, bars, retail stores, gyms, and other establishments – through at least May 20, 2020. In addition, it permits food trucks to operate at certain highway rest areas, and also modifies educator certification testing.
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Protections granted to residential renters during COVID-19 crisis
Governor Lamont’s order – Executive Order No. 7X – includes a provision taking the following actions to protect residential renters during the public health crisis:
–All landlords are prohibited from issuing a notice to quit or beginning eviction proceedings before July 1, 2020, except for serious nuisance, such as physically harming another tenant or the landlord.
–For rent due in April 2020, landlords must grant tenants an automatic, 60-day grace period for payment, instead of the existing 9-day grace period.
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–For rent due in May 2020, landlords must grant a 60-day grace period for payment upon the request of tenants. Under this provision, a tenant must to notify the landlord that they have lost a job, lost hours, or otherwise lost revenue or faced significant increased expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
–If a tenant has a paid security deposit of more than one month’s rent, the tenant can apply all or part of that excess to April, May, or June rent. Under this provision, the tenant must notify the landlord that they have lost a job, lost hours, or otherwise lost revenue or faced significant increased expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this crisis, these protections will allow residents to stay safe at home, while prohibiting landlords from charging late fees or interest for nonpayment and provide a buffer for the next couple of months,” Governor Lamont said. “Residential renters need to have added safeguards during times of emergency like this – they have rights and we will see to it that they are protected.”
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Last week, Governor Lamont announced that his administration reached an agreement with over 50 credit unions and banks in Connecticut to offer mortgage relief to homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in Executive Order No. 7S, provided temporary relief regarding upcoming municipal tax payments. Homeowners should contact their lender to discuss accessing mortgage forbearance.
Extension of all previously enacted closures, distancing, and safety measures through May 20
Also under today’s executive order, the deadlines for all closure, distancing, and safety measures enacted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 that are contained within previously enacted executive orders are extended through at least May 20. This applies to the following provisions:
–Executive Order No. 7D, Section 2, imposing limits on restaurant, bar, and private club operations
–Executive Order No. 7D, Section 3, closing on-site operations at off-track betting facilities
–Executive Order No. 7D, Section 4, closing operations at gyms, sports, fitness, and recreation facilities and movie theaters
–Executive Order No. 7F, Section 1, closing large shopping malls
–Executive Order No. 7F, Section 2, closing places of public amusement
–Executive Order No. 7H, Section 1, imposing safety and distancing measures for workplaces and non-essential businesses
–Executive Order No. 7N, Section 1, prohibiting social and recreational gatherings of more than five people
–Executive Order No. 7N, Section 3, restricting retail operations
Food trucks permitted to operate at certain rest areas to provide meals to truck drivers and other essential workers
In addition, today’s executive order lifts restrictions on commercial activity in Connecticut highway rest areas and permits food trucks to set up in these locations with the goal of feeding hungry truckers and other essential workers during the pandemic. The directive comes in the wake of recently rescinded federal prohibitions against the commercialization of rest areas nationwide, freeing the states to provide additional necessities.
Governor Lamont reiterated his directive that everyone should “Stay Safe, Stay Home” and restrict themselves to essential travel only. Truck drivers, he said, have no choice but to be out on the road making critical deliveries and pick-ups.
“These truck drivers are keeping Connecticut moving and are providing critical necessities to our state during this national crisis,” Governor Lamont said. “We need to make it as easy as possible to keep them fed around the clock.”
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) maintains seven rest areas on Interstates 84, 91, and 95. They are open 24/7, year round. They have food and beverage vending machines and restrooms, but no other travel services. They are distinct from the service plazas on I-95, 91, 395, and Route 15, which have gasoline, restaurants, convenience stores, and other amenities. The rest areas accepting food trucks are located in Danbury on I-84; Wallingford and Middletown on I-91; and North Stonington on I-95.
Food truck operators interested in participating will need receive approval from CTDOT by filling out a permit application and emailing it to CTDOTCOVID@ct.gov. Operators must have a state-issued Department of Public Health permit to prepare and serve food. Spaces for the food trucks will be marked off at each of the rest areas, and signage will be included strongly encouraging social distancing.
Modifications made to educator certification testing
Finally, today’s executive order also modifies state statutes to authorize the commissioner of the Department of Education to temporarily defer any requirements regarding certification testing for educators as he deems necessary to address the impact of COVID-19 risks.
**Download: Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7X