West Hartford to repeal its mask mandate

View of West Hartford Town Hall in West Hartford, Conn., on Thursday Jan. 7, 2020.

WEST HARTFORD — Mayor Shari Cantor announced Tuesday that the town will terminate the local declaration of emergency and remove its mask mandate, effective Oct. 22.

The town said COVID-19 cases have been declining in West Hartford and the region. Currently, the town sits in the “yellow zone,” which is the second lowest category for transmission risk, according to parameters set by the state Department of Public Health.

“We have our residents to thank for the drop in the infection rate by complying with the mask mandate when it was important to do so, getting vaccinated, and practicing personal safety protocols,” Cantor said in a statement.

The mask mandate returned to West Hartford on Aug. 20. The town, at that time, was in the “red zone” along with every other county in the state, which meant there were more than 100 cases per 100,000 people per county. The town said the case rate as of the most recent reporting on Oct. 9 was down to 7.8 cases per 100,000 people.

The town said the area’s high rate of vaccinations is also a reason for dropping the mask mandate. Currently, schools have a 90 percent vaccination rate for staff and students in grades seven through 12. Overall, 87.2 percent of West Hartford residents who are 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

“We have been carefully monitoring the transmission rates for West Hartford and our neighboring towns, and we have achieved the benchmarks which allow us to safely lift the mask mandate,” town manager Matt Hart said in a statement.

Hart will maintain emergency authority granted from a public health emergency that Gov. Ned Lamont declared. That will remain in effect through February. Hart has the authority to reinstate the mask mandate if needed.

A mask mandate will remain in place though at public libraries, the town said, as it serves a population who aren’t yet elibigle for the vaccine. Residents must also continue to wear masks in health care facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, while using public and private transit, schools and child care facilities. The town said unvaccinated residents still need to wear masks indoors. Individual businesses also have the ability to enact their own mask mandates if desired.

“Although our numbers have greatly improved, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic with a deadly disease that can be very unpredictable,” said West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District Director Aimee Krauss in a statement. “Masking up remains one of our most important disease mitigation strategies, and compliance with the state mask policy will help protect against future spikes.”

Connecticut Media Group