Government Health

Mask Mandate Reinstated in West Hartford Municipal Buildings

Front entrance of West Hartford Town Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

As of Dec. 20, 2021, a universal mask mandate will be implemented in all Town of West Hartford municipal buildings.

By Ronni Newton

Anyone entering a Town of West Hartford municipal building – regardless of their vaccination status – will be required to wear a mask as of Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, the town announced Thursday.

The mandate – which has been in place on and off for the past 21 months, was most recently repealed as of Oct. 22 amid falling COVID-19 case counts. Positive cases have been rising dramatically across the state, and in West Hartford there have been more than 200 new infections in just the past week.

“We are taking this action due to the high rate of community transmission,” Town Manager Matt Hart said in a statement. “The town will continue to monitor conditions and will make policy changes accordingly.”

The universal indoor mask mandate in municipal buildings applies to employees as well as visitors, and to public areas of the buildings including hallways, restrooms, and meeting rooms. All who attend and/or participate in public meetings will need to wear a mask.

The universal mask mandate does not apply to private businesses or residences, and applies only to indoor spaces.

Visitors who arrive at town buildings without a mask will be offered one by town staff. “Persons who are unable to wear a mask due to a health condition will be exempt from the requirement,” the announcement of the mandate states.

“We greatly appreciate the cooperation of all visitors and employees as we work together to reduce the spread and incidence of COVID-19,” Mayor Shari Cantor said. “It is important for us to protect our workforce and our visitors so that we can continue to serve our community.”

On Aug. 5, Gov. Lamont issued Executive Order No. 13A, giving municipalities the authority and option to impose local mask mandates. Although West Hartford’s state of emergency was lifted in October, under the governor’s public health emergency the town manager retains the authority to impose a local mask mandate. When it was lifted in October, he noted that it would be reimposed if conditions warranted.

Mask mandates for schools and medical facilities have been imposed statewide by the governor, and unless modified are in place through the end of February when his executive orders are set to expire.

A high percentage of West Hartford residents are vaccinated, with state data indicating as of last Thursday that nearly 90% of the town’s overall population – including those too young to be eligible – have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

West Hartford Health-Bloomfield District Director Aimee Krauss continues to urge the community to get vaccinated, including getting booster shots when eligible, as the best defense against COVID-19, including the delta and omicron variants.

“Vaccinated persons are less likely to experience severe effects of the virus nor require hospitalization if they contract COVID-19,” said Krauss in a statement. “Vaccines are widely available at our Health District, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, urgent care centers, area hospitals, and many other locations.”

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