CONNECTICUT, USA — Connecticut is masking up again -- or at least parts of it are.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends mask-wearing indoors in any counties with a "substantial" or "high" transmission designation -- as of Wednesday, all Connecticut counties fit this description.
With increased concerns over the COVID-19 delta variant and the CDC designating New London, Hartford and New Haven counties as areas with "high" community transmission rates of the virus, several cities and towns are taking action.
Gov. Ned Lamont has resisted reissuing orders for a statewide mask mandate, instead, leaving the decision to local leaders.
On Aug. 5, Lamont signed an executive order giving Connecticut municipalities the right to institute their own mask mandates for indoor public spaces, regardless of the individual's vaccination status.
“Connecticut has one of the highest vaccination rates in the entire nation, and for that, the residents of our state are to be applauded,” Lamont said. “That being said, there are some pockets of the state that are lagging behind others, and some leaders in those areas have requested the option of requiring everyone to wear masks until they can get their vaccination rates higher. While I continue to strongly advise that everyone wear masks while inside of public locations as recommended by the CDC, I urge everyone to get vaccinated because it’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself from this ongoing virus.”
Current statewide policy dictates that only unvaccinated people must wear masks indoors in public settings. However, the following towns and cities have issued mask mandates regardless of vaccination status.
This list will be updated as any other announcements are made:
The town of Wethersfield has joined the more than dozen towns in Connecticut issuing its own indoor mask mandate amid the ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases.
The mask mandate will go into effect on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 8 a.m.
In a letter to residents, Town Manager Gary Evans said the mandate includes businesses, restaurants, town buildings and meeting spaces that are indoors – regardless of vaccination status.
Read more here.
South Windsor Town Manager Michael Maniscalco announced Thursday that he is ordering a town wide mask mandate for all indoor spaces that are frequented by the public.
The mandate will take effect on Friday, Aug. 20.
Maniscalco said the town's goals are to:
- Keep kids in school, in person;
- Avoid business shut downs and capacity mandates.
"The only exemptions to this mandate are when people are seated and eating or drinking in an establishment or have a valid written medical exemption from a physician," Maniscalco said.
All private businesses within the Town of South Windsor are required to have all employees and patrons wear a mask while in their facility and following the CDC mask-wearing guidelines.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker announced on Aug. 6 the city's return to mask mandates. The mandate took effect on Aug. 9.
"I've been quite clear that we're going to use every tool we can to keep residents safe," Elicker said.
New Haven was the first Connecticut county to be designated "high" in terms of COVID-19 transmission.
“Vaccination remains the most effective way to protect yourself from becoming very ill," Elicker said. "If you haven’t been vaccinated, you should do so as soon as possible.”
Hartford was the next to announce a return to masks for all residents, vaccinated and unvaccinated, in restaurants and businesses.
The mandate does not apply to those with relevant medical conditions, those under the age of 2, those eating or drinking, and those who are alone in an indoor space or in an office setting where there are partitions between them and other people.
It took effect on Aug. 11 at 12:01 a.m.
“Our case rate has more than doubled over the last two weeks, and we’ve seen similar increases in other cities as well – even those with different demographics and vaccination rates,” Mayor Luke Bronin said. “We’re instituting a mask mandate tonight to slow the spread as we continue our vaccination efforts, and we’ll assess this mandate on an ongoing basis over the next few weeks. COVID-19 is going to be with us in some form for a while, but if enough folks get vaccinated, we’ll hopefully get to a place where we can treat it like the flu. But right now, too many people – especially children – remain vulnerable."
Mayor Joseph P. Ganim made Bridgeport the third, and largest, city to implement mask mandates.
The Bridgeport mandate began on Aug. 11 and requires the use of masks when attending public indoor venues.
He defined indoor venues as any establishment where patrons attend inside such as restaurants, grocery stores, theaters, gyms, and/or retailers. The use of masks in public parks is also recommended, especially in instances of gatherings.
“The masks will help in any situation for those that are vaccinated, not vaccinated, individuals that are vulnerable, and specially to help stop this virus from spreading to a child that is not eligible for the vaccine. Bridgeport did this together last year under more uncertain times – we can do this again to protect each other and stop the spread of this virus in our city,” Ganim stated in a release.
Mayor David Martin announced on Aug. 11 that he is reinstating the city's indoor mask mandate, effective on Thursday, August 12, at 8 a.m.
All outdoor events with more than 100 people in Stamford facilities or parks will also require masks.
In his announcement, Martin said all people wearing masks would lessen the confusion that was present when only the unvaccinated were required to mask up.
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling announced a mask mandate would be effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 13.
The city of Norwalk will require indoor face coverings for all people, regardless of their vaccination status, and it will be enforced by both the Norwalk Police and Health Departments.
“While I believe a statewide policy, rather than 169 different approaches, makes the most sense as we see a resurgence of COVID-19, I felt it important to reinstate the mask mandate across Norwalk to help keep our residents safe. Wearing a mask, watching your distance, and washing your hands, are proven simple steps we can all take that have a big impact. I appreciate residents, employers, and customers for their continued cooperation,” Rilling said in a release.
Beginning on August 15, masks or face covering will be required at all times while in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.
The mandate goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. that Sunday.
Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo released a statement on the mandate:
Due to the increase in the number of cases over the past two weeks, and the projection of the Delta variant spread occurring in surrounding counties in Connecticut, we want to get ahead of this variant spread. We are asking our businesses and residents to take these precautions in hopes of mitigating the spread and making every effort to protect our community.
I previously stated that a regional approach would be the most effective way to issue this mandate. After reaching out to local officials from surrounding towns, we are hopeful that Brookfield, Bethel, and Ridgefield may issue similar guidance in the coming days.
I know that we had all hoped to be nearing the end of this pandemic, but I am confident that we will get through this as long as we remain vigilant. Wearing a mask indoors or in large gatherings, along with getting vaccinated, and practicing social distancing remain the most effective mitigation strategies. The City of Danbury Department of Health and Human Services is working to create more testing opportunities within the City of Danbury. If you have been exposed or experiencing symptoms, I urge you to please get tested for COVID-19. Vaccine clinics are available on a daily basis here in Danbury and we will continue to support our community partners in this effort.
The town of Mansfield has issued a mask mandate that will go into effect on Saturday, August 14, at 12:01 a.m.
Town officials say regardless of vaccination status, people must wear masks in all public spaces, meeting spaces, private indoor businesses, and all places of employment except when eating or drinking.
“The Town of Mansfield is taking this proactive step to protect our residents, visitors, and business owners,” says Town Manager Ryan Aylesworth. “Wearing a mask in public spaces can help prevent the spread of the virus, and it is a prudent step to take at this time.”
Mansfield is preparing for the flux on college students who will begin the fall semester at the University of Connecticut soon.
“We know that students, families, and faculty members will be coming back to Town in just a couple of weeks, and there will be many visitors here enjoying our community and its great resources throughout the fall semester,” Aylesworth said. “The safety of our residents, those who work in town and those who operate businesses in Mansfield remains our top priority. We now have an increased number of vaccinated individuals so we’re stronger against the virus."
He continued: "However, ongoing adherence to many of the basic public health-recommended protocols that were adopted this past year is critical. We are still concerned that our youngest and most vulnerable residents—including children under 12—don’t have access to a vaccine, and we must protect them as best we can.”
Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel of Montville announced on the town's website that masks will be required in all town facilities beginning on August 23, due to the rise of COVID-19 cases.
We find ourselves once again in a place of resurgent COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant," said McDaniel in a written statement. "I am proud of all that the residents of Montville have done to date to cooperate with recommendations and Executive Orders with respect to wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and limiting unnecessary exposure opportunities. We will continue to exercise responsible and reasonable precautions as this crisis continues."
With the consultation with Quinnipiack Valley Health DistrictMayor, Curt Balzano Leng issued a new emergency order for town residents and business owners requiring masks to be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status in the town of Hamden.
The emergency order goes into effect on August 19 at 12:01 a.m.
Leng commented, “It’s just simply the right move to follow the current CDC guidelines related to wearing masks or face coverings in indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. With the Delta variant spreading, and learning just how transmissible it can be to all ages, extra prevention and protection measures are needed. It’s unfortunate we have to do this, and I understand and share the frustration, but we’ve got to run this rodeo again. While we all certainly wish this pandemic was over, it is not and it is affecting younger ages more than any other COVID surge period. These efforts, vaccination, masking and distancing, matter because lives are still at risk. We can help our families and our neighbors stay safe by taking these actions together.”
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc instituted a town-wide mask mandate that will go into effect at midnight on Tuesday, August 24.
The order will remain in effect until further notice and all residents over 2-years-old should go back to wearing masks in indoor public spaces, regardless if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or not.
People can be exempt from the mandate while they are eating or drinking, spaced at least six feet apart, or due to a medical condition, behavioral condition, or disability.
Town officials say anyone who declines to wear masks due to the circumstances will need to provide written documentation to qualify them from the exemption. Anyone who does not wear a face mask will be subjected to a $100 fine.
“It is imperative that all businesses and organizations follow this mandate as recommended by the CDC,” said Leclerc. “Businesses and organizations can help set the standard of protecting their employees and customers by adhering to the universal mask mandate during this fourth wave of the pandemic.”
Any questions should be directed to the East Hartford Health Department at 860-291-7324.
Beginning on August 30, all town employees and members of the public will be required to wear a mask while entering town buildings and the Board of Education Central offices, regardless of vaccination status.
Town officials say the directive will be in place until Southington has two consecutive weeks where it is not in the red or high transmission category for COVID-19.
Towns encouraging mask-wearing
West Hartford, masks are not required indoors in public spaces but are strongly encouraged. They are required in West Hartford's municipal buildings. Middletown-owned buildings require masks to be worn inside too.
The East Shore District Health Department and their member towns of Branford, East Haven and North Branford now strongly recommend people wear masks when indoors at all public places regardless of vaccination status as well.
The Towns of East Windsor, South Windsor, and Windsor Locks announced that they strongly encourage all residents and visitors to our community to wear masks when inside public spaces. In their release, they state:
Lastly, we all strongly believe that the situation requires a uniform, statewide policy regarding mask requirements indoors in public places. In the absence of that state-wide policy, we are working jointly to protect the residents in our communities.
Starting Friday, August 13, masks will be mandatory in all Town of East Lyme municipal buildings regardless of vaccination status. However, employees may be unmasked if they are able to maintain a safe 6-foot distance from others.
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