CHESHIRE – With COVID-19 case numbers dropping dramatically, the Town of Cheshire announced recently that beginning Monday vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear masks inside municipal buildings or during governmental meetings.
According to Town Manager Sean Kimball’s report, COVID-19 infection rates have dipped substantially over the course of the last several weeks, allowing the town to ease its COVID-19 protocols.
“COVID cases and local positivity rate numbers have been falling rapidly over the past three weeks,” the report reads. “Most importantly, numbers of hospitalizations and deaths have been falling statewide and the data shows that these critical metrics did not rise as rapidly as overall cases during the recent omicron variant wave. Combined with Cheshire’s high local vaccination rate (86.04% of Cheshire residents of all ages), we are on our way to transitioning back to more normal times.”
The report further explained that Cheshire’s estimated average positivity rate as of Feb. 17 was 5.3%, while the rolling three-day average had fallen from 12.2% to 5.3% over the course of a week. In addition, the town had seen a precipitous drop in overall case rates, according to the report. While the ideal case rate would be 15 cases per 100,000 individuals, Cheshire’s number as of Feb. 17 stood at an average of 26.9 cases. However, that was down from 54.6 cases the week before, and 95 cases the week before that.
Effective Monday, masks will not be required for vaccinated visitors and employees in any town-owned building.
Vaccinated employees are not required to wear masks with the exception of operators of the Senior Center mini-buses. Unvaccinated employees and public officials are required to continue to wear masks at all times indoors, subject to medical exemptions, except when working in separate personal work spaces.
The town’s decision follows on the heels of the Cheshire School District’s announcement that, beginning March 1, all schools will be mask-optional for students and employees. Earlier this month, Gov. Ned Lamont requested that his executive order requiring masks be worn in all public schools be extended by the State General Assembly, but only through Feb. 28, at which time Lamont suggested the question of masks should be handed over to individual districts. Local municipalities have had the flexibility to decide for themselves whether or not to require masks on town-owned property since last year.