Westport first selectman 'encourages,' but does not mandate, masks in indoor spaces

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

WESTPORT — First Selectman Jim Marpe is encouraging town residents to wear a mask in indoor public spaces due to increasing COVID-19 cases in Fairfield County, but has not called for a mandate.

In a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon, Marpe said, “Westport is not mandating masks at this time. However, given the rapid spread of the Delta variant, we are requesting that residents return to a higher level of vigilance. ... The Delta variant is much more contagious than (the previous strains of) COVID-19 and extra precautions are warranted. Wearing a mask and exercising caution whether it is in Westport, another community, or in a place of business should be consistent.”

Last week, Marpe declared that masks must be worn in all town buildings, including the library and town hall.

The latest mask guidance applies to retail establishments, restaurants, gyms, workout studios or other businesses, as well as galleries, museums, performance spaces and government buildings.

In Tuesday’s statement, Marpe mentioned that some businesses in Westport, “including most gyms and some restaurants, have returned to requiring masks for all visitors, customers, and staff. Most retailers are requiring staff to wear a mask. We request that everyone respect and comply with the conditions set by these individual establishments.”

As of Aug. 5, Westport’s COVID rate was 6.5 cases per 100,000, for the two-week period of July 18 to July 31, with 12 cases reported the first week and 14 reported the second, according to the state Department of Health Data Tracker.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have designated Fairfield County as having “substantial” community transmission, out of the low, moderate, substantial and high rates. Currently, 90 percent of all COVID cases in the state are of the delta variant.

Marpe said that, while those who are being hospitalized due to COVID are overwhelmingly unvaccinated, there is still cause for concern among the vaccinated, and everyone needs to be vigilant.

“From the beginning of this challenging time, I have stated, ‘We are in this together,’ ” Marpe said. “Now more than ever, that message is important. In my opinion, the personal choice to wear a mask reflects compassion for all of our neighbors, families and friends. We continue to urge all who are eligible to get vaccinated.”