Local Public Health Officials Have Questions about New Mask Fine Procedure

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Don’t follow Connecticut’s mask orders? You could pay a fine.

You could also have to pay up if you host or attend an event exceeding state size limits too.

A day after the governor announced that those not following the state’s mask or gathering orders can be issued fines, local public health officials are trying to get a better understanding of the new authority they are expected to soon have.

According to the governor, they, along with law enforcement and local elected official designees, can issue the fines.

“It could be another tool in our toolbox,” said Middletown’s Public Health Manager Kevin Elak. “By far, our number one complaint that we get from the public is violations of the mask mandate.” 

But as local public health officials wait for the governor’s official executive order to be handed down, those we spoke to, like Elak, do have some concerns.

While they understand the responsible reason behind the guidance, they have questions about its feasibility.

“I think logistically we have to figure out how it’s going to work,” said Manchester Director of Health Jeff Catlett.

Elak and Catlett wonder how health departments would collect fines, something they’ve never done before.

“We’re not like the police where we can write a ticket on the spot,” said Catlett.

As for mask fines, Catless says he sees health departments probably only able to implement them with a repeat offender, perhaps workers in a business.

Because, he says, by the time they arrive to a mask call that mask-less shopper for example is usually long gone.

“We’ve been very, very busy with contact tracing, but also running our day-to-day operations as a local health department. We still have local restaurants to inspect. We still have complaints coming in for housing complaints,” among other things, he went on to say.

The governor's office responded to the feasibility concerns Tuesday, saying "We tried to provide some of the flexibility that many of our local health directors and elected officials have asked for and that’s an ability to keep as many people safe in their towns and cities as possible. By allowing chief elected officials to designate who can enforce, in addition to local law enforcement and public health officials, there is some latitude provided to them."

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