Ridgefield reinstates indoor mask mandate

Town officials announced Friday that residents will have to mask up in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status beginning Monday at midnight.

Town officials announced Friday that residents will have to mask up in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status beginning Monday at midnight.

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

RIDGEFIELD — Town officials announced Friday that residents will have to mask up in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Ridgefield joins the neighboring communities of Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield and Redding in issuing an indoor mask mandate. On Friday, town leaders from the Danbury area met virtually to discuss if they should follow in the city’s footsteps. Danbury officials started requiring masks in indoor settings last Sunday.

The main purpose of the mandate is to protect children under 12 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. He explained the more contagious delta variant poses a threat to unvaccinated people “with the potential for serious consequences,” according to a release.

“We have a good percentage of our population that can in fact get very, very ill, and that's what we’re trying to prevent here,” he said. “We’re starting to see them show up in hospitals, these younger children.”

Marconi said protecting children and keeping schools open is the main priority. He also urged those who are eligible for a vaccine to get one. “There’s plenty of opportunities to do that,” he said.

Ridgefield’s Health Director Ed Briggs agreed. “I can't stress enough the importance of vaccinations for those who are eligible,” he said. “Unless we get enough people vaccinated, we will be chasing variants forever."

As of Thursday, 39 towns are now considered “red,” meaning they have an average of at least 15 new daily infections for every 100,000 people in the two weeks ending Aug. 7.

Many of Connecticut’s “red” towns remain in the center and eastern part of the state. Ridgefield is currently orange, which means it’s averaging 10 to 14 cases per 100,000. But it also leads the area in vaccination rates, with roughly 73 percent of residents immunized.

But Marconi believes that percentage should be higher.

Vaccinated individuals, he explained, “may get a cold and feel lousy for a couple of days (if they contracted COVID-19) but they're not gonna fall into serious illness — that’s the single most important thing.”

The town’s recently reactivated COVID task force will continue to monitor data issued by the Center for Disease Control and the state Department of Public Health, Marconi said.

Kendra Baker and Currie Engel contributed to this story.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com