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West Hartford lifts indoor mask mandate

The move comes after the town saw a decline in COVID-19 infections over the last four weeks.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The town of West Hartford’s indoor mask mandate ended Friday morning after the town saw a decline in COVID-19 infections over the last four weeks.

Mayor Shari Cantor said earlier this week that the town is in the so-called “yellow” category of low transmission, which is the second-lowest category of risk of transmission set by the state Department of Public Health.

She told FOX61 News on Friday that the town has seen about 88% of the town's eligible population vaccinated.

“We feel like for credibility we need to understand and follow the data and the science ramping up and ramping down there are people who are going to be really uncomfortable taking their masks off and we encourage them to wear masks," Cantor said.

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According to data provided by the town, West Hartford has a high vaccination rate. The West Harford Public Schools system has a 90% vaccination rate among staff and students in grades 7-12.

In addition to dropping the mask mandate, the town lifted the local declaration of emergency related to COVID-19.

“Everyone is looking forward to getting back to normal as long as we go cautiously," Mark Gurdzien, of West Hartford, said. "We've got the data and the scientist telling us we can make those moves I think it's OK."

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The local state of emergency was declared on March 15, 2020, shortly after the first COVID-19 cases were recorded in Connecticut. The mask mandate was reinstated in August.

“We have been carefully monitoring the transmission rates for West Hartford and our neighboring towns, and we have achieved the benchmarks which allow us to safely lift the mask mandate,” said Town Manager Matt Hart. “This is very good news.”

Hart, who has emergency authority under the public health emergency declaration by Gov. Ned Lamont, cautioned that the town will continue to monitor infection rates and could re-impose the mask mandate if conditions warrant.

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While the mask mandate is not in place, the town’s health director reminded unvaccinated residents to continue to wear masks indoors in compliance with the statewide mask policy.

Additionally, all residents are required to wear masks in certain settings such as healthcare facilities, public and private transit, schools and childcare facilities.

The town will not require masks in municipal buildings with the exception of the public libraries, which serve a population that is not eligible for the vaccine yet.

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