Ridgefield officials: We will not issue mask citations
RIDGEFIELD — In Connecticut, it can now cost you $100 for walking down the street without a face mask. Who wants to enforce that fine?
No one, apparently — in Ridgefield anyway.
“We’re not really going to be looking for people without masks, we’re just not going to do it,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “We urge everyone to be in compliance — not only for themselves, but for others. But we’re not going to issue citations.”
Marconi told the Board of Selectmen that it was an issue he’d discussed with Police Chief Jeff Kreitz.
But violations of state rules against large gatherings may prompt action by town authorities, discussion at this week’s selectmen’s meeting suggested.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced this week that people who refuse to wear face coverings in public would be subject to $100 fines, and there would be fines of $250 for people attending private gatherings that exceed previously set state limits. Fines could be $500 for people organizing events that are too large.
The state limits for most private gatherings are 25 people indoors and 100 individuals outdoors. Outdoor events in municipal parks are limited to 500 people, provided there is at least 15 feet of space between each party or group.
Selectman Sean Connelly understood the reluctance to get into mask enforcement.
“You’re not going to be hiding in a corner, waiting to jump out,” he said.
The state’s rules on gatherings were viewed differently.
“I have seen parties in the neighborhood, way over 100 people, people not wearing masks,” Connelly said.
“Yeah, an egregious violation like that is something that should be addressed,” Marconi said.
Gathering size limits might end up like the town’s noise ordinance — enforced when there are complaints, he said.
Selectwoman Barbara Manners, who put on 11 free concerts in Ballard Park this summer, said people going into the concerts were checked in — in case contact tracing became necessary. As they entered, people were reminded to wear masks any time they left their “pod” of friends and family. And the groups were asked to maintain a 15-foot distance from other pods.
“A man came in and he was not wearing a mask, and people got upset. And we called the police. They would not remove him,” Manners said. “They came in and talked to him. They talked to him for a long time, but ultimately they left. They said he’s going to keep his distance from people.”
Declining to wear a mask was not deemed grounds for removing the man from the park.
“Is that true in a store as well?” Manners asked.
“I can tell you a store owner has the right to ask someone to leave their store,” Marconi said. “They also have the right to call the police and ask them to remove someone from their store — that’s a little different than a public park.”
Connelly said his daughter worked in a store in town, and one man came in without a mask while everyone else inside was wearing a face covering.
“He came to her register to be checked out,” Connelly said.
Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark found Connelly’s story troubling.
“The young cashier’s in jeopardy,” she said. “That’s not right.”