Westport reinstating COVID mask mandate

Photo of Serenity Bishop
Selectwoman Andrea Moore (left) and First Selectwoman Jen Tooker on April 9 in front of Town Hall in Westport.

Selectwoman Andrea Moore (left) and First Selectwoman Jen Tooker on April 9 in front of Town Hall in Westport.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

WESTPORT — The town’s mask mandate will be reinstated beginning Dec. 27, requiring all visitors and staff regardless of vaccination status to wear masks inside town-owned buildings.

Thursday’s announcement comes a week after the state moved Westport back into the red category for COVID positivity rates. First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker said, after consideration with health officials, town officials have decided that a new mask mandate is necessary with the rising levels of COVID-19 cases.

There will also be no indoor programming or congregate lunches the week of Dec. 27 at the senior center, but will resume Jan. 3. Classes will be held via Zoom and the congregate lunch program will take place as a drive through at noon on Dec. 27, 28 and 29.

Town-owned buildings include Town Hall, Center for Senior Activities and the Westport Library.

Former First Selectman Jim Marpe lifted the mask mandate for indoor public settings on Nov. 4 as COVID cases were declining. At the time, Westport Weston Health District Director of Health Mark Cooper, said the health district supported the actions as long as the local transmission rate remained low. The recent spike though has prompted the health district to encourage more actions.

“The number of cases have increased rapidly across the Northeast,“ Cooper said.

Westport had 72 cases reported between Nov. 28 and Dec. 11, according to the most recent state data.

He said of the new cases reported in Westport, 37 percent are in fully vaccinated individuals. The fully vaccinated residents who have received the booster shot make up about 2.6 percent of the new cases.

“The booster adds protection,” he said. “Checking the WWHD website regularly is advisable as it is constantly updating available booster clinics.”

Tooker said in cooperation and in agreement with town officials, Progressive Diagnostics anticipates opening a COVID-19 testing center at Greens Farms Railroad Station on or about Jan. 1. More information will be provided once arrangements are finalized.

“Health officials state that prevention is critical and all who are able and eligible are urged to get fully vaccinated and get a booster as soon as possible,” Tooker said. “Getting fully vaccinated - including receiving a booster shot, wearing a mask indoors in any public setting and maintaining social distancing remain the most reliable ways of limiting exposure and transmission.”

She added fortunately, although the omicron variant is highly contagious and transmissible, those who are vaccinated and boosted are experiencing less severe symptoms if they test positive for the virus.

serenity.bishop@hearstmediact.com