coronavirus in connecticut

New Haven Businesses Adjust to Mask Mandate

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The signs are all over New Haven: masks are back. And the return means a return of the city’s COVID-19 task force that was prominent among businesses early in the pandemic.

“Our enforcements will be reinstated. We want to make sure that the public feels safe,” said New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond. 

This time around, Bond said they’ll start with friendly visits to businesses to remind them that masks are once again mandatory. They’ll offer information as well as masks to hand out to customers. The city’s COVID-19 reporting portal also remains open for customers to file complaints for investigations.

Indoor masking is another adjustment for businesses that have weathered the trials of staying afloat during the pandemic.

“I’m just one small business. I can’t imagine the restaurants, I can’t imagine the other gyms,” said Carla O’Brien, owner of the District Athletic Club. She said many members have stayed faithful throughout the pandemic.

“Not a single person that has been a member with us over the last year, year and a half, has given us any kind of reason to not wear a mask,” O’Brien said. All members have also shared their COVID-19 vaccination information.

O’Brien said she even began to see membership growth earlier this year when the mask mandate was removed. Now, she’s concerned about meeting some metrics this fall that could impact her business.

“We have more than 80% vaccination rate here which is why it’s a little disheartening because everyone has done their jobs,” O’Brien said.

But she understands why the mandate is back. The delta variant is driving up COVID-19 numbers in New Haven County.

In Waterbury, 10 people were hospitalized Sunday and four were admitted to the ICU.

“It just sucks that we have to deal with all this stuff again,” said Jamie Orson, of Atlanta, who’s a student in New Haven. “We thought it would be done by now but hopefully the next couple months we can get it under control and move on.”

As the delta variant moves through the state, New Haven is seeing a gradual increase in vaccinations. Bond reported the city is up to having 59% of the population fully vaccinated, with 65% of eligible residents getting at least one dose.

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