Gov Lamont: Towns Have Option of Requiring Masks; Unvaccinated Nursing Home Staff Must Be Tested Weekly

Governor Ned Lamont announced on Thursday an executive order related to the COVID-19 emergency declarations (Executive Order No. 13A) that allows towns the option of requiring masks in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status.

(Town of Greenwich Revises Mask Protocols for Employees, Visitors Aug 5, 2021)

This means that municipal leaders will now have the option of moving beyond the minimum requirements in the statewide policy on masks implemented by Governor Lamont in May.

The statewide policy, which remains in effect and has not changed, is as follows:

  • Unvaccinated people must wear masks while in indoor public places
  • Everyone must wear masks regardless of vaccination status while inside certain settings, such as healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools, and childcare, pursuant to an order from the commissioner of the Department of Public Health
  • Masks are not required outdoors
  • Individuals, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear masks indoors if required in the commissioner’s order for special settings or by a municipality
  • Businesses, private property owners, and state and local government offices may require masks to be worn by everyone inside of their own facilities

Governor Lamont said that he issued this order at the request of municipal leaders who wanted to return to the universal mask requirements that were implemented near the beginning of the pandemic.

However, the governor said he did not believe that universal masking needed to be required statewide, considering many Connecticut towns have exceptionally high vaccination rates.

“Connecticut has one of the highest vaccination rates in the entire nation, and for that the residents of our state are to be applauded,” Governor Lamont said. “That being said, there are some pockets of the state that are lagging behind others, and some leaders in those areas have requested the option of requiring everyone to wear masks until they can get their vaccination rates higher. While I continue to strongly advise that everyone wear masks while inside of public locations as recommended by the CDC, I urge everyone to get vaccinated because it’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself from this ongoing virus.”

In preparation for the upcoming school year, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Connecticut State Department of Education are in the process of reviewing and if necessary, updating statewide policies requiring masks in schools. That updated policy will be released prior to the start of the upcoming school year. However, it should be noted that until that policy is issued, Governor Lamont’s statewide mask policy and current orders in effect continue to require that everyone wear masks while inside of schools, regardless of their vaccination status.

Unvaccinated nursing home staff required to receive weekly COVID-19 testing

Executive Order No. 13A also changes the effective date of a new law adopted by the state legislature this summer, requiring it to take effect immediately rather than on its previously scheduled date of October 1, 2021.

Section 6 of Public Act 21-185 enables the Connecticut Department of Public Health to require the testing of nursing home staff and residents for an infectious disease during an outbreak at a frequency as determined by the department.

Pursuant to this newly enacted law, Dr. Deidre Gifford, who serves as acting commissioner of the department, plans to require that all unvaccinated nursing home staff statewide receive weekly testing for COVID-19.