Suburbs and small towns reject mask warrant option even as Bridgeport takes it all on its own


As the mayors of Connecticut’s largest cities use the authority given to them by Governor Ned Lamont to institute mask mandates, their suburban counterparts in the greater Bridgeport and Naugatuck Valley area will not follow suit.

At least not yet.

“I’m not going to force them in my city to wear a mask, especially in restaurants,” said Mayor of Ansonia, David Cassetti. “It’s not for me to say, even though the governor has given authority to cities and city leaders, I’m not going to enforce that. And I’m not going to ask that, just yet.

Cassetti, a Republican, admitted that the Ansonia immunization count – currently around 53% of people have at least one dose – has lagged behind the state.

Bridgeport, New Haven and Stamford, meanwhile, have all instituted some form of city-wide vaccination mandate for businesses and public places. This means that crossing borders will now result in different mask requirements, even for businesses with multiple locations in the state.

Bridgeport reports just over 50 percent of its eligible population with at least one dose and around 45 percent fully vaccinated. Many companies in Bridgeport have said they will have no problem complying with the mandate.

Charlie Yu, owner of JB Beauty Supply, said on Wednesday – the day Bridgeport’s tenure took effect – that he and his employees will continue to wear masks at their downtown wig and beauty accessory store and will ask customers to do the same after the new city ruler. order.

In Trumbull, which sits on the opposite end of the scale with vaccination rates of around 70 percent, the city has not instituted a mask mandate.

The first woman chosen, Vicki Tesoro, said she based her decision on the city’s low positivity and high vaccination rates. She reiterated, however, that Lamont’s decrees were still in effect. Unvaccinated people should wear masks indoors in public places and everyone – regardless of immunization status – should wear masks in certain places, including health facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transport, correctional facilities, schools and daycares.

“We continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis,” Tesoro, a Democrat, said.

City leaders in other towns in the region held a similar opinion, reminding residents to obey state rules and reaffirming that private companies have the right to mandate masks in their establishments, while refraining from issue a mask warrant in their community.

Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick, a Republican, urged residents who have not been vaccinated to do so and recommended “that those who are not vaccinated wear a mask indoors when attending rallies social ”.

Derby mayor Rich Dziekan, also a Republican, said he was awaiting advice from the Department of Health. “As it is, we’re basically still as we are,” he said.

He said if cases continued to rise he would consider a mask warrant, but he will not make that decision without input from local health officials.

“This is why we are working with the Ministry of Health, using them,” he said. “That’s what we pay them for, for their advice and with science. “

But such a sporadic approach, with mask rules changing by city or street to street along a municipal border, can put business owners in a difficult position.

Martin McCarthy operates the Fire Engine Pizza Co. in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport. Its location near the Fairfield Line means its restaurant must require masks, unlike other restaurants a minute’s drive south of Fairfield Avenue.

“How are you going to get it here in Bridgeport and not in Fairfield?” There is no continuity, ”said McCarthy. “I’ll follow the rules. But now I have to play “COVID cop” again or pay someone else to stay at the front door at all times and risk the ridicule. “

McCarthy also has a Shelton location of Fire Engine Pizza Co., and although staff and customers at the Bridgeport location wear masks, in Shelton they are not.

He would like to see a general mandate from the state that he said would lighten the enforcement burden on businesses. Informing customers that they must wear a mask can quickly escalate into a hostile confrontation, he said.

“I was dumped,” he said. “I make great food and drink. I am not a policeman.

Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association, shares McCarthy’s concerns. Last year, just days after the start of the pandemic, the association helped craft agreed nationwide regulations for supermarkets to avoid such a confusing patchwork of rules.

He said a statewide tenure would be “much easier” to manage for its members, especially chains with stores in multiple cities. Yet, so far, the association has not implemented its own mask rule.

“We will comply with local ordinances and where we don’t have them, we will work with guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control,” he said. “That’s the bottom line for us.”

The Connecticut Restaurant Association, which has members in 169 cities across the state, also does not recommend that its members adopt a uniform mask rule. Scott Dolch, the group’s executive director, said he was concerned about how mask warrants would change the perception of people who wanted to go out to dinner.

“Does a consumer say, ‘I don’t want to go to Bridgeport tonight’. I prefer to stay in the suburbs, ”Dolch said. “Does that make it sound like ‘Bridgeport must be worse if the mayor puts in a warrant?’ Maybe I should stay in the suburbs. Why does Bridgeport have a warrant and not Westport? Is there something I don’t know? ‘ “

Dolch’s message to diners is that while cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Connecticut, the state still has a relatively low infection rate and a relatively high vaccination rate.

“We are not in Florida. We are not in Louisiana. We are not Georgia, ”he said.

McCarthy ultimately predicted that the state would simply reinstate a mask warrant.

“I’m sure at some point everything will change and be generalized,” he said. “But when? “

Editors Brian Lockhart, Ethan Fry, Eddy Martinez, and Brian Gioiele contributed to this report.


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