Westport joined a growing list of towns in Fairfield County that have announced they will be reinstating mask mandates in public indoor spaces.
The temporary town-wide mandate goes into effect on Aug. 23 for Westport, as well as Fairfield and Easton. The neighboring cities of Norwalk, Stamford and Bridge already have mask mandates in place.
Indoor public spaces where masks will be required include retail establishments, restaurants, gyms, workout studios or other businesses, as well as galleries, museums, performance spaces, places of worship and government buildings, according to Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe.
"The COVID- 19 vaccine is the most powerful tool against infection and severe illness, but the increasing number of breakthrough infections after vaccination are a reminder that no vaccine is 100% effective," said Westport Weston Health District Director of Health Mark Cooper. "As long as there continues to be cases of COVID in Westport, it is important to continue the use of the other tools at our disposal to reduce transmission such as masking when indoors and in large outdoor crowds, hand washing, social distancing, and limiting gathering sizes."
On Wednesday, the Connecticut Department of Public Health said that Fairfield County was placed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "high-transmission" category of COVID-19. It became the fifth county in the state to be upgraded to the high transmission category, following New Haven, Hartford, New London and Middlesex counties.
The state department of health said the high transmission category is the most severe, as defined by the CDC, with 100 or more cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 10 percent or higher over the past seven days.
The decision for the towns to require masks in public indoor settings comes the same day that Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced that all state employees, K-12 teachers and staff, and early childhood staff will be mandated to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 27 or will have to follow a testing-out option.
Both the new state mandate and the reimplementing of the mask mandate come amid new concerns over the delta variant and rising coronavirus case numbers in the state where infection rates and hospitalizations are at levels not since since the spring.