East Hartford

East Hartford Joins Municipalities Issuing Mask Mandate, Potential Fines

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Add East Hartford to the growing list of municipalities issuing indoor mask mandates.

It went into effect Tuesday, and those who aren’t compliant could face a $100 fine.

“So the fine is not to be punitive in any way to individuals. It’s really meant to be a tool for us to use if we have a business, for example, that is just overtly noncompliant,” said East Hartford Director of Health and Social Services Laurence Burnsed.

Burnsed said this is a much-needed mandate for community safety now that COVID-19 cases have tripled from about 30 to 90 a week in East Hartford since July.

Burnsed said the health department will be monitoring mandate compliance.

While they want to work with businesses, Burnsed said “If we get a complaint then that’s where our department will follow up and conduct a follow up inspection. Or, if we have a specific individual that is just not wanting to follow the mandate and they don’t have a specific reason for an exemption then that’s where the fine is in place.”

Without a statewide mandate, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc said she hopes this helps those living and working in her community stay healthy, especially as thousands of folks come in to town for their job every day, “That means they’re traveling across our town lines back into our communities and if they’re out in retail establishments within our community, they have the ability to carry that back into their community and we want them to be safeguarded.”

She, like many other municipality leaders, said she would prefer a statewide mandate.

Of course, not everyone wants to wear masks, but those we spoke to in town Tuesday were all for the mandate.

“It’s nice to wear the mask. I feel like it’s more safer,” said East Hartford resident Lorna Thomas who isn’t messing around when it comes to masking, especially with a grandchild too young to get vaccinated.

“I just saw a gentleman down the road, and I said, ‘Where’s your mask? He has it in his pocket and I said, ‘No, put it on your face’.”

We stopped by two small businesses in town Tuesday.

By chance, both required masks in their stores even before learning about this mandate.

“Covid, you don’t know who is who. And everybody has to protect themselves,” said James Hill, who owns James Hill Designer Clothing.  

“For the most part, most people are good with it, but I’ve had one or two persons who tried to push back,” said Gracia Hemans-Martin, who is the owner and leather crafter at Grassillini, the Leather Genie.

The governor’s executive order allowing municipalities to issue a mask mandate gives cities and towns authority to fine folks who aren’t compliant.

Bloomfield, for example, has a $100 penalty in place too.

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