Municipal leaders in 60 towns urge Gov. Lamont to reissue state-wide indoor mask mandate

Coronavirus

(WTNH) –  The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) and the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) are urging Governor Ned Lamont to issue a new executive order to require indoor mask-wearing statewide.

This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases is rising in Connecticut due to the Delta variant.

RELATED: Cities and towns in Connecticut mandating masks in indoor spaces

SCCOG, which is made up of 22 towns, held a meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the issue of municipal mandates requiring the wearing of masks indoors. Also on the call were the directors of three regional health districts in southeastern Connecticut, representatives of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, SCCOG affiliate members, as well as SCCOG’s military liaisons from the United States Naval Submarine Base and the United States Coast Guard Academy.

The group stressed that COVID does not stop along town lines.

In their letter, the group of municipal leaders noted that there is a difficulty for individual towns to enforce mask mandates at the municipal level. The Council of Governments cannot require municipal members to mandate indoor mask-wearing, which is the reason the council is requesting Lamont issue a new executive order.

CRCOG, which is made up of 38 towns, issued a similar letter.

The latest request from those 38 towns and cities brings the state’s total to 60 municipalities wanting the same thing.

“What the municipalities are looking for is a level of continuity and they’re seeking that from the governor by way of a mask mandate,” Ledyard Mayor Fred Allyn III told News 8.

When News 8 asked Allyn if he felt people don’t want to take the heat for doing a mask mandate at this point, that a lot of people have pandemic fatigue, he said, “I do. I think a lot of people don’t want to handle that right now. They don’t want to be the town leader who puts them back under a mask.”

Leaders of several other municipalities said it is hard enforcing a mask mandate at a municipal level.

“We know that COVID in the pandemic or not do not stay within town boundaries,” said East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc.

Leclerc said one of the problems is that cities like East Hartford do not have the authority to enforce masking at private businesses.

“Having a common element, a common over-arching mandate would alleviate any ambiguity from town to town,” Leclerc said.

Governor Ned Lamont hosted a virtual COVID update Thursday for the first time in months. News 8 asked if he feels it’s necessary to issue a statewide indoor mask mandate.

“To be blunt about it, get back to me in a week, we’re going to continue to watch these numbers very carefully, we find that we don’t continue to have a flattening of the curve and things are going up… it could change,” Gov. Lamont said.

Leclerc said she was disappointed with the governor’s response.

“Knowing that he is mandating masking within school systems and for state employees and in healthcare facilities, I think universal masking is appropriate at this time as we all start to enter into the red zone,“ Leclerc said.

The governor’s office said they are continuing their campaign to encourage every resident that can to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

There is currently an executive order mandating that all unvaccinated individuals wear masks while indoors and the CDC strongly recommends wearing masks in indoor settings, guidance that Governor Lamont and the Department of Public Health have urged individuals to follow.

Getting and encouraging vaccinations against COVID-19 continues to be the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the virus, and the governor continues to urge all elected officials to pursue those efforts in their communities.

Max Reiss, Director of Communications for Gov. Lamont

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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