CT restaurants react to CDC easing mask guidelines outdoors

Coronavirus

MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut restaurants are reacting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines on COVID-19-related mask-wearing. The CDC Tuesday eased guidelines on wearing mask outdoors for those who are vaccinated, which is a big boost for restaurants.

Construction is underway at the new Taquerio in Mystic.

“This will be full seating outside here and we’re actually extending it outside to the road,” explained General Manager Mike Corso.

Taquerio has the same owner as Rio Salado and Jealous Monk, which are also in Mystic and have outdoor seating. They are still deciding what to do once the outdoor mask mandate is lifted by the governor next month.

“We have to see where the numbers are at,” said Corso. “What we don’t want to do is make any of our employees or guests feel uncomfortable.”

Related: CDC says fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask outside; Biden delivers remarks

New CDC mask guidelines say fully vaccinated or not, people do not need to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike, or run alone and with members of their household. 

Fully vaccinated people can remove their masks in small outdoor gatherings with other fully vaccinated people.

“I’ll be comfortable outside in small groups but I think it’s really prudent to continue to wear the mask especially if you’re with a group of large people,” said Natalie Brown who is visiting Olde Mistick Village from New York.

If people who are not fully vaccinated are together outside the CDC says they should wear a mask. Unvaccinated people should also still wear masks at outdoor restaurants.

“Our approach since the very beginning has been slow and steady,” said Ali Formica Coleman of Flanders Fish Market in East Lyme.

They along with Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport, and Olde Mistick Village say they will follow guidance from the CDC and state leaders but Flanders could recommend outdoor servers wear masks even if guests no longer have to.

“Staff’s just exposed to so many more people than people that may just come and dine and go back home,” said Formica Coleman. “There really is just a level of safety that we have to ensure is maintained.”

The CDC says people at a crowded outdoor events like a concert or a sporting event you should wear their mask whether they are vaccinated or not.

“I didn’t spend all this time being isolated, wearing masks, avoiding all my friends to go backwards,” said Brown.

She and her college friend Jan Kopels say they have no problem wearing a mask even when most others aren’t.

“We’re too old to be bending to peer pressure,” they said with a laugh.

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