New London County

Southeastern CT Towns Not Planning on Local Mask Mandates Right Now

The health districts covering towns in New London county say they are not planning on suggesting that their towns impose local restrictions or mandates, absent a statewide mandate.

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Several towns in southeastern Connecticut are not planning on issuing local mask mandates after Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order giving towns and cities the ability to dictate mask requirements.

The director of health for the Ledge Light Health District, which covers towns in the New London region, emailed town leaders last week regarding the executive order. He told the towns that Ledge Light Health District and Uncas Health District, which covers towns in the Norwich region, have no plans to suggest imposing local restrictions or mandates on capacity limits or masks.

"We will continue to monitor guidance and mandates at both the federal and state level and keep you all in the loop if we hear anything new," Stephen Mansfield, director of health for LLHD, wrote in the email.

Masks are still recommended indoors in public places everywhere in Connecticut.

The City of New London is within the LLHD. Mayor Michael Passero said the city is in "lock step" with the local health district. He is not planning on a local mask mandate at this time, following suit with many other towns in southeastern Connecticut.

“I think we all believe that it would be much more effective if we acted together and the rules in one community were applied in all the communities around us," said Passero.  “We are hoping to work together on this and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

Groton's town manager said he is also not considering a local mandate. He told NBC Connecticut that the health district has not recommended they do so.

While masks are not mandated everywhere, New London is requiring masks inside city-owned buildings. The mayor said he also hopes people will still consider masking up on their own and getting vaccinated.

"Let's please protect the people in our community who don't have the option of getting vaccinated, especially our children," said Passero. "Wear a mask. Still continue to practice social distancing."

New London county is currently seeing a "substantial" level of COVID transmission, according to the CDC. To keep New London county from joining Hartford and New Haven counties in the "high" transmission level category, experts say masking and vaccinations are key.

“We do have some control over the situation," said Dr. Paulo Verardi, a professor of virology and vaccinology at the University of Connecticut. “Masks are important to slow down the spread, to make the wave pass as quick as possible and also to make the wave as small as possible.”  

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