Greenwich eases COVID-19 rules by dropping mask requirement at Town Hall, other town-owned buildings

Photo of Ken Borsuk
Town Hall in Greenwich, Conn., photographed on Wednesday, March 26, 2019.

Town Hall in Greenwich, Conn., photographed on Wednesday, March 26, 2019.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

GREENWICH — As part of a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, the town announced that masks will no longer be required at Town Hall and some other town-owned buildings in Greenwich as of Monday.

Starting Nov. 8, the decision to wear a mask will be left to the discretion of each person, the town said. The new rule applies to both town employees and to visitors.

The new policy covers town-owned buildings, but some are excluded. Mask use is required in the town’s public school buildings as part of a state mandate; the Senior Center, due to the vulnerable population that uses the building; and the Greenwich Library, which sets its own policy, according to the town.

The new policy includes the civic centers and the Dorothy Hamill municipal ice rink.

Greenwich changed the policy because of the low number of new cases of COVID-19, First Selectman Fred Camillo said Thursday.

“Things are going in the right direction,” he said.

The end of the mask requirement is regardless of vaccine status, but Camillo said, “If you’re not vaccinated, we hope you will wear a mask.”

“We’re telling Town Hall employees, some of whom might not be comfortable, to bring a mask with them and wear them if they want,” he said. “We want to be consistent, and we have said from the beginning that we will keep adjusting policy as needed. We’ve done that and this comes after several months of numbers trending in a good way.”

Town Hall will also fully reopen all of its rooms for meetings, and rules for social-distancing practices in those meeting rooms have been eliminated.

The change is part of the pledge he has made throughout the pandemic to adjust policies as needed, Camillo said.

“We don’t want to say there is an emergency in place when there’s not,” he said. “We want people to be careful and the town has been very good about responding to this. We said from the beginning that these were not meant to be permanent policies. It was just to get us through a rough time.”

As of Nov. 2, 5,879 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in town since the pandemic began in March 2020, he said. That’s an increase of 22 cases since Oct. 26. The town Department of Health is monitoring 23 active cases of COVID, which is down three from Oct. 26.

In August, the town put in place a mask mandate for public and private businesses as cases increased due to the delta variant. But as the number of new cases decreased in late September, Camillo relaxed the restrictions and allowed private businesses to set their own mask policies.

“Some businesses have kept theirs in place, and that’s why I tell people to always carry a mask with them in case they need to wear it,” Camillo said. “I abide by it when I see the restrictions. And it’s worked out. Our numbers in town keep going down. We are going to keep monitoring this, and we continue to tell people to be careful.”

Anyone at Town Hall, whether an employee or a visitor, are welcome to continue wearing a mask, he said, particularly since it is cold and flu season and since the pandemic has not ended.

Camillo said he is also continuing to urge residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The town will offer clinics for residents seeking booster shots of the Moderna vaccine from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 10 and Nov. 17 at Town Hall, Town Director of Health Caroline Baisley said.

Moderna booster shots will be available to anyone age 18 or older who received their first shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, Baisley said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends booster shots for anyone age 65 or older as well for anyone over the age of 18 with underlying medical conditions, she said.

The clinic will require identification as well as proof of previous COVID-19 vaccinations. Masks will also be required. Appointments must be made through the federal VAMS system, which can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3bFhUmR.

Greenwich Hospital, as part of the Yale New Haven Health System, announced plans to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to children ages 5 to 11 who had previously not been eligible.

Appointments are required for the children’s vaccines, which began Thursday. To make an appointment, call 833-275-9644 or visit www.ynhhs.org/covidvaccin e. Vaccinations will also be be provided by local pediatricians.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com