West Hartford is joining other municipalities in prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people.
By Ronni Newton
Town Manager Matt Hart announced Thursday night that he has issued an executive order, effective at 12:01 a.m. on March 20, prohibiting social and recreational gatherings of more than 10 people.
The State of Emergency declared Sunday night by Mayor Shari Cantor gave Hart the authority to issue executive orders as needed, and that decision was reached Thursday based on the critical need to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Connecticut has had 159 residents test positive as of March 19, and the third death was announced Thursday evening.
The order will remain in effect through April 30, 2020, but may be “modified, extended, or terminated at any time,” the town said in a news release.
“Each day the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing rapidly in Connecticut and it is undoubtedly here in West Hartford,” Cantor said in a statement. “This executive order is a life-saving measure as we have to take every precaution available to us to slow the spread of this deadly disease. I call on the members of the West Hartford community to do everything in their power to assist us in this effort.”
This action is similar to emergency actions announced earlier for Hartford, Bridgeport, Hamden, and New Haven.
Social and recreational activities impacted, as defined in the executive order “include, but are not limited to: community, civic, and sporting events; plays or live performances; and religious, spiritual, or worship gatherings.”
Hart said the limit on the size of gatherings applies on private as well as public property, and will be enforced by the police.
“They will start with warnings, and then will take more significant action as warranted,” Hart said, particularly if there are repeat offenders.
Earlier in the day, the town issued a request for all school-age children to be at home by 8 p.m. – not an official curfew, but a strong recommendation.
The 10-person limit is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, which has recommended cancellation of all events involving more than 10 people.
Consistent with CDC guidance, I am issuing this emergency order to emphasize that everyone must minimize contact with others if we are going to be successful in slowing down the spread of COVID-19,” Hart said in a statement. “We will use this emergency order to direct people to stop congregating in groups of more than 10, as we do everything possible to get the word out about the importance of social distancing. We realize that this a significant step to take but believe that it is fully warranted given the magnitude of the public health crisis that we are facing.”
Cantor also sent out an Everbridge message Thursday night. The following is the text of that message:
Good evening, this is Mayor Shari Cantor.
I am calling you tonight to announce that pursuant to my recent emergency declaration regarding the global pandemic of COVID-19, the town manager has issued an executive order prohibiting social and recreational gatherings of more than 10 people. The order will take effect tomorrow, Friday, March 20, 2020, and will be enforced by the West Hartford Police Department. We join several other Connecticut towns in taking this important action.
This is a serious and difficult step but our number one priority is to protect the health and safety of all West Hartford residents and it will save lives. This executive order follows the most current CDC directive and addresses social and recreational activities, that include but are not limited to: community, civic, and sporting events; plays or live performances; and religious, spiritual, or worship gatherings. The emergency order runs through April 30, 2020, but may be modified at any time.
We must do everything in our power to slow the community spread of COVID-19. This means that we must minimize direct contact with others. As social beings this is so incredibly challenging but it is essential at this difficult time. We need to stop congregating in groups of more than 10 and practice social distancing.
Earlier today, Town officials sent a letter urging parents and caregivers to make sure that all school-age youths are home each evening by 8 p.m. While it seems that children, adolescents and young adults are less likely to get sick from COVID-19, they can be carriers, infecting those who are most vulnerable.
We need your help enforcing the 8 p.m. rule at this critical stage of the virus. Children should not be allowed to participate in playdates, sleep-overs, team sports, house parties and other group activities that would greatly expand their risk of spreading this virus.
The number of confirmed cases in Connecticut is rising exponentially. We have to take every precaution available to us to slow the spread and prevent the health system from becoming overwhelmed. I call on the members of the West Hartford community to do everything we can to assist us in this effort.
This is serious and real. Social distancing saves lives.
West Hartford is strongly positioned to weather this historic crisis, but we cannot do it without the assistance of all or our residents. Each and every one of us has been forced to make incredible sacrifices and, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your cooperation.
Remember, we are all in this together. Thank you for listening. Stay healthy. Be well.
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