As the state continues to wrestle with the resurgent rise in Covid-19 cases, Gov. Ned Lamont has signed an executive order that provides municipal leaders with the option of requiring masks in indoor public places within their respective towns and cities for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.
As previously reported, several municipalities within Fairfield County have already done so.
Lamont’s action means that municipal leaders now have the option of moving beyond the minimum requirements in the statewide policy on masks implemented by the governor in May.
The statewide policy, which remains in effect and has not changed, is as follows:
- Unvaccinated people must wear masks while in indoor public places.
- Everyone must wear masks regardless of vaccination status while inside certain settings, such as health care facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools, and child care, pursuant to an order from the commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH).
- Masks are not required outdoors.
- Individuals, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear masks indoors if required in the commissioner’s order for special settings or by a municipality.
- Businesses, private property owners, and state and local government offices may require masks to be worn by everyone inside of their own facilities.
Lamont said that he issued the order at the request of municipal leaders who wanted to return to the universal mask requirements that were implemented near the beginning of the pandemic. However, the governor said he does not believe that universal masking needs to be required on a statewide basis at this time, noting that there are many towns throughout Connecticut that have achieved exceptionally high vaccination rates.
“Connecticut has one of the highest vaccination rates in the entire nation, and for that the residents of our state are to be applauded,” he remarked. “That being said, there are some pockets of the state that are lagging behind others, and some leaders in those areas have requested the option of requiring everyone to wear masks until they can get their vaccination rates higher.
“While I continue to strongly advise that everyone wear masks while inside of public locations as recommended by the CDC, I urge everyone to get vaccinated because it’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself from this ongoing virus,” Lamont said.
In preparation for the upcoming school year, the DPH and Connecticut State Department of Education are in the process of reviewing and, if necessary, updating statewide policies requiring masks in schools. That updated policy will be released prior to the start of the upcoming school year.
However, it should be noted that until that policy is issued, Lamont’s statewide mask policy and current orders in effect continue to require that everyone wear masks while inside of schools, regardless of their vaccination status.
Executive Order No. 13A also changes the effective date of a new law adopted by the state legislature this summer, requiring it to take effect immediately rather than on its previously scheduled date of Oct. 1. Section 6 of Public Act 21-185 enables the DPH to require the testing of nursing home staff and residents for an infectious disease during an outbreak at a frequency as determined by the department.
Pursuant to the newly enacted law, Dr. Deidre Gifford, who serves as acting DPH commissioner, plans to require that all unvaccinated nursing home staff statewide receive weekly testing for Covid-19.