NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven’s Health Director Maritza Bond led Tuesday’s mask mandate compliance canvass along with Mayor Justin Elicker.

On Tuesday, Governor Ned Lamont announced the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate reached nearly 9 percent.

“This is a serious offense, you know we’re in a middle of a surge of cases and omicron has now taken over as the main variant,” Bond told one employee who was not wearing a mask. “So I need you to be a responsible business person, okay?” His answer: “Yes ma’am.”

Representatives from the fire marshal’s office and the building department also helped conduct this canvass in one of the city’s busiest shopping areas just a few days before Christmas.

Businesses that didn’t mask up were given a verbal warning along with a box of masks for workers and customers, signage about the mandate, and information on COVID testing and vaccination sites.

“We also just witnessed another employee at another establishment doing the same and so we’re basically issuing verbal warnings to both establishments,” Bond said.

There were a few who violated the order.

“It’s not that hard just to put on a mask,” said Lydia Donnelly of Wallingford. “Especially with the new variant being so contagious.”

The city says most of the 800 businesses inspected while the mandate has been in effect do comply.

“It makes sense when you’re shopping,” said Bianca DeSimone of Wallingford. “Just to protect yourself and others.”

“I wasn’t planning on putting a mask on but in order to shop in Lululemon you have to put a mask on, so I did,” said Yvonne Ferraro of Orange. “I don’t mind.”

That store supplies masks to those who don’t have one. The mayor said masks have been proven to keep people safer.

“I just find it hard to believe that people would be so passionate about what people call their civil rights when they’re required to wear pants when they go into a store when they’re not allowed to smoke when they go into a store,” Elicker said.

If stores repeatedly ignore the mask mandate, they could be shut down. So far, none of them have been.