NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk is retreating back to Phase 2 as of noon Sunday.
Mayor Harry Rilling’s order is delayed to allow businesses time to adjust and meet Phase 2 criteria, the announcement said.
“This is a difficult decision, as I do not want to see our local businesses impacted, but my priority remains the health and safety of our residents,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “Our cases are rising and I am deeply concerned. We are now seeing increased cases for those over 70 years of age and we know this population is at higher risk of serious illness and death from this virus.”
On Tuesday, two Norwalk seniors were reported to have died from COVID-19. That brought the total to 151. The last previous death had been announced Oct. 5.
The State put Norwalk into its red alert category on Oct 22 because there are more than 15 positive cases per 100,000 residents in a two-week period.
Norwalk’s move back to phase 2 was prompted by the State keeping Norwalk in red alert today, the announcement said. Rilling’s evening update reports 54 new positive test results. Rilling called it “not a surprise” that the city is entering its second week in red alert.
“The State DPH reported Norwalk having 18.9 cases per 100,000 residents for the time period of 10/4 – 10/17. For the more recent time period of 10/11 – 10/24, Norwalk is reported to have 36.3 cases per 100,000 residents. Norwalk is one of 30 communities listed in a red-alert category by DPH this week, up from 19 communities last week,” the Phase 2 press release said.
“We have ramped up testing to try to slow this virus down, but it continues to spread rapidly, as people are not following all public health guidelines,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “Residents must take this seriously. Please, stay home if you can, limit travel and errands whenever possible, and always wear a face covering in public.”
Under Phase 2, businesses and events are allowed less people.
“At Phase 2, restaurants and personal services will move from 75% capacity to 50% capacity, private gatherings will move from 100 people to 25 people indoors, and 150 people to 100 people outdoors,” the City’s announcement said. “Religious gatherings will also move from up to 200 people to a maximum of 100 people indoors.”
Expect more spot checks at local businesses: Rilling authorized additional staffing for increased enforcement, the announcement said. Violators will face a heavy penalty as, “Any establishment found in violation of public health guidelines will be ordered closed for at least two weeks.”
“It will take all of us to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “We will have a zero tolerance policy for restaurants, businesses, and establishments found flagrantly violating public health orders. Businesses have to be responsible for enforcing social distancing and ensuring patrons wear face coverings. A rise in cases is a situation public health experts predicted if guidelines were not followed. We are unfortunately seeing that ring true in Norwalk.”