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So long as strict and specific guidelines are followed, Nutmeg state for-hire captains may begin sailing on May 20, 2020.
By Toby Lapinski  |  May 19, 2020
With black sea bass season open in Connecticut waters on 5/19, news of the for-hire reopening couldn't have come at a better time! (Photo courtesy of Rock and Roll Charters)

In mid-April, Governors from the states of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey formed an agreement for a unified approach for personal use of marinas and boatyards. This was a much-welcomed statement for local private anglers and pleasure boaters who were frequently being denied access to their boats if they were stored at the local boatyard or marina. April is a time when we begin uncovering and preparing our boats for the upcoming season, so the timing was perfect for the clarification.

However, with this dose of good news came a tough pill to swallow for the for-hire fishermen as the agreement specifically stated, “Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed.” While some unnamed captains took the fact that it specifically left out the word “fishing” from the ban, most reluctantly kept their boat tied to the dock, or left them in their winter storage, while awaiting clarification. A great many of them were forced to cancel early-season charters for blackfish, striped bass and winter flounder, a hardship they won't easily recoup.

Well, the time has come to start booking trips.

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7PP, Protection Of Public Health And Safety During Covid-19 Pandemic And Response – Phase 1 Reopening, Limitations On Camp Operations. The order states, among other things:

  • Phase 1 Business Reopening. To provide for a comprehensive plan for safe resumption of limited social, recreational, athletic, and economic activity, pursuant to rules issued by the Department of Economic and Community Development for each of various business sectors (individually and collectively, the “Sector Rules”), which Sector Rules shall constitute legally binding guidance, the following Executive Orders are repealed or amended effective at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, as provided herein:
    • Reopening of Outdoor Recreation and Other Businesses. Executive Order Nos. 7H, Section 1, and 7F, Section 2, are further amended to permit the operation of any businesses covered by the Sector Rules for General Business, as amended from time to time. The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development shall issue, not later than 10 a.m. on May 19, 2020, a list of business types permitted to reopen pursuant to such Sector Rules, which list may be amended from time to time and shall be incorporated in the Sector Rules. The remaining provisions of Executive Order 7F, Section 2, except for those referred to in subsection 1 (d) of this order, are extended through June 20, 2020.

As to exactly which businesses are covered by the Sector Rules, the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development issued the following General Business Rules:

As of May 19, 2020, general business rules shall only apply to Outdoor Recreation activities, as defined below.

  • Equestrian (subject to Dept. of Agriculture guidance)
  • Mountain Biking
  • Camping
  • Boat Tours (subject to 5 passengers)
  • Charter Fishing (subject to 5 passengers)
  • Sport Fishing
  • Go Kart Racing (bring your own, no rentals)
  • Golf
  • Driving Ranges
  • Tennis
  • 1:1 Training, outdoors maintain 6 feet
  • Race Tracks (practice only, no spectators)
  • Campgrounds (subject to DPH guidance)
  • Outdoor Shooting Range
  • Kayaking
  • Dirt Biking (practice only)
  • Mini Golf

So with black sea bass season opening in Connecticut on May 19, this news couldn't come at a better time for the local 6-pack fleet!