West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor sent a message to the town Friday via Everbridge, introducing a bell-ringing initiative and providing some other information including a request to wear masks in certain situations, as now required by an executive order issued Friday by Gov. Ned Lamont.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor thanked residents Friday for continuing to stay strong and practice physical distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has been impacting the community for the past month, resulting in the shutdown of schools and many businesses, and a mandate to refrain from gathering in groups.
She also notified the community that beginning Friday night at 7 p.m., and continuing every Friday night at the same time for the foreseeable future, residents will be standing on their front steps or in the windows, – ringing bells or banging on pots and pans, or cheering – as a show of thanks and appreciation for the essential workers, healthcare providers, and first responders who continue to put their lives on the line every day.
“Ringing the bells, and having everyone do it at the same time every week, will be a clear reminder that we are all in this together,” Cantor told We-Ha.com. “And it will demonstrate how grateful we are for those who are on the frontline of this epidemic.”
In her message, Cantor said the physical distancing that is being practiced is working, as are other measures that the community continues to follow in order to take care of each other. “Each time you keep a safe distance from others, avoid crowded places, and wash your hands for 20 seconds, you are helping to protect your family, friends, neighbors, and our first responders and healthcare workers,” she said in her message.
The community is now being asked to do one more thing for the sake of public health, Cantor said, and that is to wear a mask or some type of cloth face covering – over the nose and mouth – in the grocery store and other public places where it may not be easy to ensure proper physical distancing.
As of Monday, April 20, at 8 p.m., a statewide requirement, recommended by public health experts, goes into effect. Any person in the state will be required to wear a mask or other face covering in public places, when physical distancing of at least 6 feet is not able to be followed, in accordance with Gov. Ned Lamont’s Executive Order 7BB, issued Friday.
“It’s really governed by common sense,” Lamont said regarding the mask requirement during Friday afternoon’s press briefing. Anyone in front facing jobs should have a mask issued by their employer and wear it at all times, and anyone who cannot keep a 6-foot distance should wear a mask, he said.
The requirement to wear a mask or other face covering also applies when any individual is “using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing or similar service or means of mass public transit, or while within any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area,” the executive order, the governor’s 29th since the COVID-19 pandemic began, states.
The commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development will be updating the previously-issued Safe Workplace rules and Safe Store rules to incorporate the wearing of masks or cloth face coverings.
The requirement does not apply to children under age 2, or older children if their parent, guardian, or person responsible for the child is unable to safely place the mask on the child’s face, or to those people for whom wearing a mask or face covering would be contrary to their health or safety due to a medical condition.
“If a person declines to wear a mask or face covering because of a medical condition as described above, such person shall not be required to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition,” the executive order states.
“These are challenging days and our lives are turned upside down,” Cantor said in her message, acknowledging the profound economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had.
“We are all going to have good days and really challenging days. It is important for you to take care of yourself mentally and physically,” she said to the community. “Recognize how hard this is and be proud of yourself each day for the small victories.”
Those who need help, who feel “extra vulnerable, fragile, anxious, or depressed – should reach out and call 2-1-1 for help. “It is important for each of us to take care of ourselves, be patient with each other, and take those moments to breathe and recharge,” she added.
Cantor also noted the acts of kindness that she has seen – the delivery of more than 500 bags of groceries to unemployed hospitality workers by the Max Cares Foundation, the feeding of healthcare workers by DORO Restaurant Group, and efforts by students to help those in need.
West Hartford Public Schools has distributed tens of thousands of meals to students over the past five weeks, and the Food Pantry has handed out hundreds of bags of groceries as well.
“And, thank you to all of you who donated personal protection items and cleaning supplies. We are taking inventory and let you know if more are items are needed,” Cantor said.
“I know that there are so many more people and businesses that are doing similar acts of kindness and generosity,” said Cantor, asking for residents to email her at [email protected].
“Do what you can control to mitigate the spread. Give when you can and ask for support when you need it,” Cantor said.
“Be well and be safe.”
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