Masks still required in City Hall
NORWALK, Conn. — Mayor Harry Rilling has lifted the Norwalk mask mandate, except on City properties.
The decision was made “in close consultation with the Norwalk Health Department,” with a view of “improved COVID-19 metrics and ongoing vaccination efforts,” Thursday’s City announcement said.
“The indoor mask mandate was implemented for all people regardless of vaccination status on August 13 to help curb a surge in cases due to the Delta Variant. Now, with public health metrics improving, vaccination rates increasing, and young people 5 – 11 years old eligible to be vaccinated, Mayor Rilling lifted the mask mandate and replaced it with a mask advisory for indoor public places in Norwalk,” the news release said.
The decision was effective immediately.
“We are in a better place now compared to several months ago when the mask mandate was implemented. Cases are down and vaccinations are up. I thank members of the public and businesses for helping to slow the spread of the virus by following common-sense public health measures,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “While masking is no longer mandatory, residents can wear a mask if they so choose. Likewise, businesses may implement their own policy on face coverings. While the mask mandate has been lifted, I strongly encourage residents to continue to take precautions and wear face coverings when in busy indoor settings.”
The mask mandate for City properties, including City Hall, is regardless of vaccination status for all visitors and staff.
Why is it still in place for City Hall? On Friday, Rilling explained:
“All property and business owners have the discretion to require masks on their respective properties or to allow everyone to enter unmasked. We get many daily visitors to city hall. Not all of our employees are vaccinated. Also, we have no way of knowing if members of the public entering the building are vaccinated or not.
“Since we are at full staffing and have been for quite some time, we want to avoid an exposure that could result in closing an entire department. We provide services the general public rely upon. It is our obligation to continue serving the public.”
“While the mask mandate has been lifted, businesses or employers can choose to keep it in place. City staff are essential workers, and given how much interaction there is on a daily basis with members of the public, we are being extra cautious. We cannot have a whole department out sick or in quarantine. We have an obligation to Norwalk residents to keep services running,” said Norwalk Communications Director Josh Morgan.
“The Mayor’s modified order does not impact orders by Governor Ned Lamont, which mandates that masks be worn in schools and childcare settings, on public transportation, in health care and congregate living settings, and in public places by anyone who is not fully vaccinated,” the release said.
The release said:
“As previously announced, the City follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding community transmission by county, which advises masks should be worn by all people when transmission is substantial or greater. For the last eight consecutive reporting periods supporting a data trend, Fairfield County has been in moderate transmission, where the CDC advises only those who are unvaccinated wear masks indoors. Additionally, besides a lowering case rate, the test positivity rate in Norwalk continues to decline and the total number of statewide hospitalizations has remained relatively steady over the last several weeks.
“Currently, more than 75 percent of all Norwalk residents, including those who are not eligible for the vaccine, have had at least one dose, and nearly 70 percent of residents of all ages are fully vaccinated. Masks have been shown to be effective at reducing the emission of virus droplets, as well as reducing the inhalation of those droplets. Although masks will no longer be required indoors, residents are advised to continue to take steps to keep themselves and the community healthy: social distance where possible, wash hands frequently, get vaccinated if eligible, and stay home and get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Residents should also refer to the state Health Department mitigation strategies found at ct.gov for guidance based on community transmission level.
“The citywide mask mandate may be reinstated if COVID-19 cases and other important public health metrics rise again as the winter months and holiday season moves forward. Visit norwalkct.org/citynews for the latest information.”
Updated, 12:45 p.m. and 3 p.m.: More information.