mask mandate

Local Mask Mandates Gaining Steam as Omicron Spreads

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More than a quarter of Connecticut cities and towns have a mask mandate again.

A majority only require masks be worn in municipal buildings, like town hall.

However, there’s a growing list of communities requiring masks be worn anywhere indoors.

South Windsor’s town manager said his community’s Covid cases have doubled in the last two weeks.

“We’re way beyond, we’re beyond the red,” said Michael Maniscalco.

Starting Sunday, masks must be worn inside all public places, businesses, stores, restaurants and more.

“We’re gonna follow the data.  We’re gonna follow the numbers, and we’re gonna follow the recommendations of our paid professionals.”

The town’s manager said the last time South Windsor implemented a mask mandate, during the height of the Delta variant, cases dropped dramatically.  However, personal trainer and owner of Gina’s Total Fitness in South Windsor, Gina Valles, said she’d rather exercise her right to personal freedom than wear a mask.

“I believe that everyone should have their own choice.  Your body your choice,” said Valles.

She worried about the impact the new mandate would have on her business, already hit hard by Covid.

“My business really had a big loss and it was one of the hardest years as a business owner,” she commented.

The South Windsor Police Department will be in charge of enforcing the mandate, which comes with a $100 fine.

“This definitely was not something that we took lightly.  It took a lot of thought and a lot of conversation,” said Maniscalco.  “They do have the ability to issue tickets for people not wearing masks although in all honesty that’s our last resort.”

“I think everybody needs to be safe and I think that because of this variant that it’s highly contagious that not just one town should follow suit, everybody should,” said Julie Nutt who works in South Windsor.

Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont was pressed on whether he’d reissue a statewide mask mandate.

“It's a question about not simply having to mandate them be able to enforce it, making sure people have, you know, follow the lead,” the Democrat said.

“The response to the Omicron variant to this point has been a bit disappointing,” responded Maniscalco. “…you need to attack it from all the different angles that you possibly can and unfortunately, I think the state has been a no-show in that regard.”

South Windsor’s order will remain in effect until the town is able to stay out of the red for two straight weeks.

Mask mandate signs are going up, or in some cases never came down, from storefronts across Connecticut.

Middletown, West Hartford, and Bloomfield all reissued mask mandates on January 6th.

“I think it’s a good idea for our safety and for everyone’s safety,” said Jeanne Damas of Bloomfield.

“It’s safety.  Not just for you.  It’s safe for your family, your children, your grandparents, and your older people,” added Eric Walker of Hartford.

Bloomfield’s mandate includes a fine, $100-dollars, paid by the employer, if their employee is caught working without a mask.

 “It’s a little frustrating because we have to kind of police ourselves and then we’re also kind of somewhat responsible at least for our own health point of view policing our clientele, too,” said Ian Spry of Gillette Ridge Wines in Bloomfield.  “…but whatever we can do to knock this on the head.”

Bloomfield’s mayor, Danielle Wong, says the mandate is essential to protecting the most vulnerable.

“We are at an unprecedented level of transmission statewide,” she pointed out as the state's positivity rate soared to nearly 25%.

Wong, a Democrat, believes local mandates can only do so much.  She said wants the Governor to sign off a new mask mandate.

“We have 169 towns and it doesn’t stop when you cross the border,” said Wong.

 “It’s crazy doing it locally because people come from Avon or Simsbury to here and there isn’t one and I’m saying you have to wear a mask and they’re saying I don’t have to wear one at home,” added Spry.

Some say a statewide order would be simpler to follow.

“They say everybody’s got to wear a mask.  Everybody’s got to wear a mask,” said Walker.

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