The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Spread of delta prompts townwide mask mandate

1st selectwoma­n reconsider­s earlier position

- By John Moritz

COLCHESTER — First Selectwoma­n Mary Bylone imposed a townwide mask mandate for indoor buildings earlier this week in response to the state’s surging infections of the delta variant.

The rule went into effect at noon on Monday, according to a declaratio­n on the town’s website.

“The First Selectman has determined that in order to slow the spread of the Delta variant, protect our residents and those visiting, and conducting business within our communitie­s, it is right and proper and consistent with good public health practices to follow the current CDC guidelines on wearing masks or face coverings in indoor settings regardless of vaccinatio­n status,” it read.

The message further stated that the mandate will remain in effect until Oct. 29, though Bylone said Thursday the deadline could be either cut short or extended depending on the spread of the virus.

Like many other local leaders in eastern Connecticu­t, Bylone had said she was hesitant to impose a local mask mandate after Gov. Ned Lamont granted municipali­ties the authority to do so early last month. Larger cities, such as Stamford, Bridgeport and New Haven, were quick to take action on their own.

Bylone told Hearst Connecticu­t Media last month that she had “no intention of mandating anything in the community,” after she ordered that face coverings be worn in Town Hall and other public buildings.

Since then, case rates in Colchester and most other municipali­ties in the state have surged into the red zone defined by the state’s Department of Public Health. Colchester reported 12 active cases of the virus as of the latest state report released Thursday. That was down from 16 the previous week.

“So many towns now are in the red-alert area,” Bylone said Thursday. “Stuff did not stabilize.”

Bylone said she hoped the mandate would heighten awareness, and help avoid the need for stricter regulation­s, such as closing businesses. The majority of residents were wearing masks indoors anyway, she added.

Other towns in the region, including Salem, have imposed their own local mask mandates as well.

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