WEST HARTFORD — Town officials said they are implementing a universal mask mandate, starting at noon on Thursday.
The announcement came on a day where the state reported a 22.6 percent positivity rate, with 10,344 new cases of COVID-19.
Cases have been rising in West Hartford, too. The most recent data from the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District released on Jan. 6 showed 642 new cases since Dec. 29. That signified a positivity rate of 18.3 percent in town. Data is released every Thursday.
Town Manager Matt Hart said in a statement that the decision was made after consulting with public health and safety officials.
“Our approach has been, and continues to be, education first, enforcement second,” Hart said. “We are very appreciative of the high level of voluntary compliance we are already seeing.”
Hartford recently announced a mask mandate for the month of January and neighboring Bloomfield is also reinstating its mask mandate on Thursday.
In a statement, West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor said she’s advocating for a regional or statewide mask mandate, which Gov. Ned Lamont recently said he would not implement.
“COVID-19 does not stop at municipal borders, and our hospitals and health care delivery systems are all regional assets that serve multiple communities,” Cantor said. “There should be one common statewide and regional standard.”
The previous mask mandate in West Hartford was repealed on Oct. 22. On Dec. 20, the town reinstated a mask mandate for public buildings only.
On. Dec. 23, the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District issued a mask advisory, which has now been escalated to a mandate.
The mandate, the town said, requires everyone regardless of vaccination status to wear a mask when indoor public spaces. Residential dwellings are excluded from the mandate, though the town and the health district recommends residents should wear masks anytime they are indoors with members of another household.
The order also includes exceptions for people who are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons and for children under the age of 2. The order also doesn’t apply to people eating and drinking.
Cantor said the town will continue to evaluate the need for the mask mandate, but said she’s already seen a high percentage of voluntary masking in town.
“We are already seeing a high level of voluntary masking in West Hartford, and I want to thank everyone who is doing their part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Cantor said in her statement. “Our priority is to keep our community safe, while keeping schools, municipal facilities and businesses open. We believe this step is necessary given the current trajectory of infection rates and the number of neighboring communities implementing similar requirements. This is a temporary measure, and we will constantly evaluate the need to continue the requirement.”