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Connecticut communities reinstating mask mandates amid COVID case surge

Some communities are also encouraging local businesses do the same.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — An uptick in COVID-19 cases has prompted towns and cities around the state to take steps to help stop the spread. 

"Unfortunately, like the rest of the state, just in the last couple of weeks, we've seen a substantial increase in cases to where we're back in high community transmission," said Laurence Burnsed, health director for the town of East Hartford.

East Hartford is among the communities now requiring masks in town facilities and recommending people mask up when in higher-risk situations.

"If you're just not certain, wear a mask when you're around those group gatherings. If it's going to be in public places, wear a mask or if you're just not sure about all of the people that are going to be in attendance, it's just safest to wear a mask," Burnsed said.

RELATED: East Hartford reinstates face mask requirements at town buildings

Newington and South Windsor also put similar protocols in place. Both towns are in the "red" zone of community transmission, meaning the town is reporting a two-week rate of 15 or more new cases per 100,000 people.

"I think this time of year when the weather is getting colder and people are starting to be indoors more and gathering with each other, it's not surprising the numbers have gone up," said Amanda Grabowski of Newington.

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In Newington, town buildings are closed to the public and masks are required for anyone inside. South Windsor also reinstated its mask mandate for town buildings, but businesses are also encouraged to do the same.

At Mileni & Co. hair salon in South Windsor, they never got rid of their mask mandate.

"We work so close to the clients, sometimes more than two hours at a time, so we just feel like it's safer for us and our clients to just keep the masks on because we can't really social distance," said the owner, Eleni Doulakis.

RELATED: Mask mandate reinstated in Hamden amid uptick in COVID-19 cases

Safety is a priority for many ahead of the holidays. Some people said they are okay with going back to masks if it means keeping loved ones healthy.

"I think it is with the holidays coming everybody wants to be with their families and if it's going to keep everybody safe then I'm all for it," said Lori Coppola of Newington.

Officials are also encouraging everyone to take the necessary steps to stay safe.

"We would really stress for individuals to be aware and be cautious of their decisions. You know we're not saying to potentially just stop all group gatherings coming up on the holidays, but to make sure that all individuals get vaccinated, and get a booster shot," Burnsed said.

Hamden is requiring masks indoors everywhere, regardless of vaccination status. All of Connecticut is currently under a high rate of community transmission of COVID-19, the CDC recommends everyone wear a mask indoors.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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