The Lamont administration this week released modified mask rules that went into effect May 19 and detailed guidance for understanding the requirements of that order.
From May 19, the latest order requires "any person while indoors in a public place who does not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person and who is not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering."
Based on the order, someone is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 14 days after receiving the final recommended dose of a vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are three vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses with Johnson & Johnson manufacturing a single dose vaccine.
However, everyone must wear a mask or face covering, unless medically exempted, "in taxis, car services, livery, ride-sharing or similar service, commercial aircraft, or any means of mass public transit, or while within any airport, bus or train station, enclosed transit stop or waiting area, homeless shelter or correctional facility."
Masks are not required in those locations while eating or drinking and those claiming a medical exemption must provide written documentation from a medical provider, therapist, or the state Department of Developmental Services.
The executive order, which expires July 20, 2021, supersedes or preempts any conflicting municipal orders related to face coverings while allowing the Department of Education and the Department of Early Childhood to set their own rules governing masks.
Businesses, organizations, property owners, healthcare facilities, and state and local agencies may require masks "in settings under their ownership or control, including, but not limited to, healthcare facilities, offices, places of public accommodation, public venues, or public meetings."
The Connecticut Department of Public Health released guidance May 19 designed to provide greater understanding of the governor's executive order.
DPH cites the CDC guidelines issued May 13 that made significant changes to the agency's recommended mask wearing practices "based on accumulating data about COVID-19 infections in vaccinated and unvaccinated
DPH's guidance notes that based on the data, "vaccinated people are very unlikely to become infected compared to unvaccinated people and, even if they do become infected, fully vaccinated people are less likely to transmit virus to others (even if those people are unvaccinated)."
Vaccinated people are no longer required to quarantine if exposed to someone with COVID-19 unless they have symptoms and do not need to be routinely tested before or after travel.
Masks are required in schools, childcare facilities, congregate settings such as prisons and residential care homes, transportation hubs and vehicles as defined in the governor's executive order, "or if they are asked to do so in a public or private establishment, if required by their employer in their workplace, or when organizers require masks at any event."
The guidance does warn of "a continuing risk that businesses and large events could be a source of significant COVID-19 outbreaks in situations where universal masking is not in use, many people remain unvaccinated, and appropriate spacing between customers, attendees, and staff cannot be maintained."
DPH recommends that businesses and event operators consider requiring masks indoors in the following sutiatuons:
- If "the space is not designed for continuous social distancing," and post signs indicating that unvaccinated people are required to wear masks.
- Where there is likely to be a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, including children younger than 12 as vaccines have not been approved for that age cohort.
Masks are also recommended for employees if they are not vaccinated "or their vaccination status is unknown and they cannot maintain continuous separation from customers or coworkers."
Businesses and organizations should also consider redesigning spaces to allow for social distancing, incorporate CDC recommendations for cleaning, disinfecting, hand hygiene, and ventilation, and plan for reduced capacity if a large outdoor event is moved indoors and unvaccinated people are present.