NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Masks are now required in all of New Haven’s indoor establishments regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
Mayor Justin Elicker announced New Haven will require indoor masking at all establishments, including bars, restaurants, theaters, stores, gyms, and office buildings, effective Monday, Aug. 9 at 12:01 a.m.
“The reason for this is the science says it’s the right thing to do. We’ve done this before, we know how it works, and particularly with the delta variant that is very contagious, mask-wearing — including for vaccinated individuals — can help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Elicker. “We’ve seen some recent research that indicates vaccinated people can get and transmit COVID-19. That’s why it’s very important that across the board people are wearing masks again.”
According to health officials, more than 240 cases were reported this past week.
The numbers are so alarming that the health department is sounding the alarm, hoping the public will heed the warning.
“Do not delay, this is not the time to wait. I want to encourage individuals to go out and get vaccinated,” said Maritza Bond, New Haven Public Health Director.
Mayor Elicker points out, you can take your mask off if you’re eating or drinking inside a restaurant or bar. The hope is to drive down these cases and to slow the spread of the virus.
The news of the mask mandate comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared New Haven County as an area of high COVID-19 community transmission.
The rapidly spreading delta variant is just one of the reasons to blame. After more than a year of struggling to keep their businesses out of the red, local business owners say they’re prepared to do what it takes to stay afloat.
“I think whatever we can do to keep everybody safe is probably the right steps, but as a business owner, I think everything is fine,” said Peter Maniatis, owner of Zoi’s in New Haven.
At Claire’s Corner Copia, the owner is already requesting customers to go back to wearing their masks.
“We took our sign that said, ‘if you are fully vaccinated, we would love to see your smile,’ and we replaced it with, ‘I’m so sorry, please put your mask back on for a while,’” said Claire Criscuolo.
The question now is will other cities and towns in New Haven County be far behind the Elm City?
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, going to continue to monitor closely. If the rates continue a steady climb we will definitely be moving closer to mandates,” said Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary in a text message to News 8 Friday.
Waterbury and Ansonia have issued mask mandates for their city halls and other government buildings.
“I have been thinking of it, yes. Is it hard to think about going back there? It’s very hard. I mean we were just seeing light at the end of the tunnel and now we have to go back to this,” Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti said when asked if he’s been thinking about mask mandates citywide.
Additionally, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin’s office said they’re considering taking similar steps and expect some news early this week.