As Fairfield lifts mask mandate, Westport, other towns, keep theirs in place

Westport's First Selectman Jim Marpe picks up the donation of mask for Westport first responders on Wednesday at Town Hall in Darien.

Westport's First Selectman Jim Marpe picks up the donation of mask for Westport first responders on Wednesday at Town Hall in Darien.

Jarret Liotta / For Hearst Connecitcut Media

In the wake of Fairfield dropping its indoor mask mandate, multiple neighboring towns — including Westport — said they had no plans to follow suit.

Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick announced on Friday that she was lifting the mandate, which had been put back in place on Aug. 23. At that time, leaders in Westport and Easton joined her in issuing their own mandates, and Weston followed suit a few days later.

Kupchick said her decision to lift the mandate came in the wake of a downward trend in COVID cases and hospitalizations over the past several weeks. But leaders in Westport, Weston and Easton are continuing to keep their mask mandates in place.

Westport interim operations manager Lynn Scully said on Tuesday that, during a meeting of the COVID Emergency Operations Center, it was decided that the town will not be lifting its current mask mandate.

“We will continue to meet weekly to monitor the numbers,” she said.

The town previously made an amendment to its mask mandate. In an executive order issued Sept. 1, First Selectman Jim Marpe stated that masks “are not required for no-contact sports where distance can be maintained (i.e., tennis, running on a track, weightlifting).” However, the order stated, trainers are required to be masked.

Weston First Selectwoman Samantha Nestor also confirmed Weston would keep its mandate in place, due to a recent uptick in cases and a recommendation from the Westport Weston Health Department.

“We are working in tandem with our neighbors in Easton, Redding and Westport to protect out youngest residents, who are not eligible for vaccination,” she said.

Easton First Selectman David Bindelglass announced Friday that his town also would keep its mandate in place.

Mask mandates are advised when a town is in the “orange” category of 10 to 14 COVID cases per 100,000 per day, said Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper. The district also includes Easton.

“It is my understanding that consideration of dropping the mask mandate will be considered when the number of cases fall within the five to 9 cases per 100,000 per day, (putting the towns in) the ‘yellow’ category.”

Cooper said Weston is in the yellow zone, with seven cases per 100,000 per day, but given a recent rise in cases, “I have recommended the mask mandate stay in place for at least another state reporting cycle.”

According to the district, Westport was, as of Monday, firmly in the orange category, with 11.5 cases per 100,000 per day, while Easton is at the high end of orange, with 14.2 cases per 100,000 per day. The red zone is defined as 15 or more cases per 100,000 per day.

“We want to be objective in our criteria for relaxing the mandate, and the criteria will be two weeks where the rate is less than 10 per 100,000,” Bindelglass said in his statement, which was posted on the town web ite.