Westport lifts mask mandate amid declining COVID cases

Westport Town Hall, in Westport, Conn. Aug. 24, 2016.

Westport Town Hall, in Westport, Conn. Aug. 24, 2016.

Ned Gerard

WESTPORT — First Selectman Jim Marpe lifted the mask mandate for indoor public settings, effective immediately.

Marpe announced he was rescinding Executive Orders 9 and 10 Thursday and residents who are vaccinated will no longer have to wear masks indoor.

Westport Weston Health District Director of Health Mark Cooper, said the health district supports these actions for those who have been vaccinated and are in the low risk category for severe COVID illness, as long as the local transmission rate remains low.

“If everyone proceeds with caution and some common sense, we may be able to enjoy the coming holiday season with family and friends in a more traditional manner,” Cooper said.

He said masking is still recommended for those in a higher risk category for severe COVID illness.

“Although the transmission rate is low, the COVID virus is still in the community,” he added.

Westport, Fairfield and Easton launched a regional mask policy in August as Connecticut begin to experience the second wave of COVID-19.

As the numbers begin to decline, Fairfield lifted the mask mandate at the beginning of October. At the same time, Westport relaxed their mandate slightly by allowing those participating in some athletic activities to go unmasked.

Thursday’s masking mandate change comes after Westport experienced a downward trend in the daily rate of COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks. The town currently sits in the gray category, which is less than five cases per 100,000 residents.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, vaccinated individuals are generally not required to wear masks indoors. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks.

Masks will still be required in healthcare facilities, facilities serving vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools and childcare facilities.

Some businesses, state and local government offices, performance spaces, and certain events, may still require universal masking.

Masks are not required to be worn by anyone outside.

Marpe said while the lifting of the mask mandate has been an optimistic trend, it is one that they have been “anxious” to announce.

“We continue to be aware of the potential of stronger strains and breakthrough cases that could impact future recommendations,” Marpe said. “Those who are eligible are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated and or receive a booster.”

Marpe also said the cooperation, patience and understanding of residents will be appreciated when visiting Westport establishments that will continue to require masks.

The Emergency Management Team will continue to oversee the pandemic and the effects it may have on the health and safety of Westport residents, businesses and visitors.