HARTFORD (25-Nov) -- In an effort to tamp down a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Connecticut governor Ned Lamont revised the state's guidance on public gatherings last night to specifically ban road races. The move was timed to prohibit any remaining "turkey trots" which were still planned as in-person races for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday.
PHOTO: Eric Jenkins wins the men's division of the 2019 Manchester Road Race (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development updated its sector rules to prohibit all organized road races, effective November 23, 2020," the governor said through a statement. "This includes any turkey trots or holiday road races scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving. Residents are encouraged to stay among members of their households and avoid crowds."
In the most recent phase of reopening of the state, road races were permitted with up to 500 participants as long as COVID safety precautions were met. A number of small races had been held recently, including last Sunday's 46th annual Fischang - Cicchetti Memorial 5 Mile Run which had 127 finishers.
Yesterday's move was part of a larger crackdown by the small New England state to reduce community spread of the novel coronavirus. Fines for business flouting the state's COVID-19 sector rules and capacity limits were increased from $500 to a maximum of $10,000. The governor said the harsher fines were necessary in order to protect the public.
"Increasing compliance with the protocols we've already enacted is an important responsibility in keeping our communities safe," the governor said. "We want to do everything we can to mitigate the further spread of this virus while avoiding the implementation of more restrictions or lockdowns on our already hard-hit economy and small businesses."
Turkey trots are very popular in Connecticut which has 3.7 million people. According to the regional running website HitekRacing.com, Connecticut had 14 turkey trots last year, including two very large events. The 83rd Manchester Road Race, New England's largest road race after the Boston Marathon, had 9956 finishers in 2019, while the 42nd Pequot Runner's Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile in Southport had 3275 finishers. Both of those events had already converted to virtual status, so the governor's declaration did not affect them.
According to data compiled by the New York Times, Connecticut is ranked 30th out of the 50 states in terms of reported COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents at 49.3. The state's coronavirus test positivity rate yesterday was 4.09%, down from over six percent last week.