Westport’s Mask Mandate: Whose Business Is It?

Some people have wondered about this.

Others have not thought about it at all.

“06880” reader India van Voorhees writes:

“Do you know if there’s any enforcement of the mask mandate here in Westport, and if there are any fines for noncompliance?”

(Masks are currently mandated indoors — including town facilities  and schools — though there are certain exemptions.)

“It seems that, except for supermarkets and drugstores, a lot of businesses aren’t paying attention to the rule.

Masks are once again mandated indoors in Westport. (“Mask Quilt” by Amy Schneider)

“For example, one of the regular employees at Organic Market never wears a mask, and the boss often wears his under his nose. I love that place, and the people there,  but I won’t go in again until the mask mandate is rescinded or COVID is under control.

“Same with the Exxon gas station at 1510 Post Road East. The employees were not wearing masks the last — and I mean last — time I went inside.

“And it’s the same with Hook’d on the Sound. People are in line without masks and employees are behind the counter without masks- even though there’s a sign that says masks are required.

“Employees were wearing masks last time I went down to Joey’s by the Shore, at Elvira’s.”

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

“Is our only option to avoid those places?  Or can something be done?”

It’s a great question. Enforcement of the mask mandate — nationally, throughout the pandemic — has been difficult. The town website page on the subject makes no mentions of consequences, though a link to Governor Lamont’s executive order indicates a fine of $100, and empowers “local health directors, district health directors, and their designees; state and municipal police officers and peace officers” to enforce it. Fines go to the state’s General Fund.

“06880” readers: What do you think?

Should Westport enforce the mask mandate more vigorously? If so, should there be dedicated patrols, or a reliance on citizen complaints? Or is this one of those squishier rules, like picking up dog poop or rolling through stop signs?

Click “Comments” below. And if you’ve had a personal experience involving someone without a mask indoors, please let us know too.

53 responses to “Westport’s Mask Mandate: Whose Business Is It?

  1. On the question of enforcement of mask mandate…. If business owners are not enforcing the mask mandate, customers should raise the issue with the owner/store manage and tell them they are not going to shop there anymore unless they do. Money talks…. The interesting conundrum for business owners is they may have a customer base that actually appreciates not having to wear mask and they may lose them if they indeed do enforce the mandate.

  2. To me, just making sure I wear a mask and don’t get close to anyone not wearing one makes the most sense. It’s futile to bring it up to everyone not wearing one.

  3. If you have a mandate it should be enforced simple.

  4. Due to my immune system issues, my wife and I have not been in places such as supermarkets and drug stores since the start of the pandemic based on my dr’s advice; and, similarly, we made only very brief visits into some establishments after getting vaccinated and before the spread of the Delta variant.

    So, since we haven’t been shopping in stores you might think we are not directly impacted by whether mask enforcement is happening in retail places around town—but we are, just as every reader of this blog is.

    As one example: a longtime local doctor recently told me that, because of the strain on hospital healthcare workers such as nurses due to the pandemic—and employees deciding not to continue with their careers—the number of emergency rooms in the entire state of CT could be reduced to a handful in the not-too-distant future.

    And this is all due to some people avoiding getting vaccinated and/or not wearing masks where deemed appropriate who are thus making this pandemic last much longer than it should have.

    Re how to enforce the current mask mandate: part of the solution could be to have the health department hire/assign more people to do spot inspections—not dissimilar to what is done with restaurant inspections—and issue violations (and make that list of violators public.)

    My wife and I will not patronize violators—even when the pandemic is over.

    And we want to especially thank and do business with those establishments that have taken extra precautions even when a mask mandate wasn’t in place—such as Gold’s, Westport Hardware, and MatchBurgerLobster (at its outdoor cafe where the servers always wore masks).

  5. Robert Harrington

    100% agree with the mask mandate given the unfortunate turn in numbers and rising cases. We are also fortunate that Westport’s vaccine numbers are very high too and we should all work to encourage people to get vaccinated for those healthy and eligible to do so.

    However I find this article on 06880 unfortunate in parts.

    I think it is unfair to effectively call out certain businesses as this article does. These may be one off situations and I am sure there are many more businesses that might have run into similar situations – and they are going unmentioned here. Obviously you can’t call out all businesses – and so i think its unfair to highlight these particular businesses – even as passing examples.

    We should enforce the mandate yes but avoid the effective naming and shaming of certain businesses – even if this was not the real intent of this article.

    • I want to know which businesses do not play by the rules. The list here cannot be be complete because there are laws of time and space that even Dan Woog cannot circumvent. Maybe readers can help construct that list here and now.

  6. Jo Ann W. Davidson

    An employee at the new Barnes and Noble reminded me to put on my mask, which I forgot I was carrying in my hand. . ” Sorry, thanks.”

  7. The Board of Selectmen meetings are held unmasked.

    Add it to the list of saying that the Town is doing something while not doing anything at all.

  8. As commented by Mr Kirshner, I am vaccinated so I will NOT patronize any store that requires a mask to shop. This is utter nonsense and total overreach by power hungry politicians. So yes, they lose my business.

    • So Raymond, what are your thoughts on breakthrough infections? Especially considering a large population, such as children under 12, are not eligible for the vaccine yet.

  9. wow calling out businesses like this is akin to online bullying imo.

  10. Especially since the very political leaders such as Schumer, Cortez, Pelosi and most others are photographed not wearing their masks at public functions until the cameras roll. It’s a total scam.

    • Alina Rodescu-Pitchon

      With so many deaths, it’s a scam????Really??? You’re obviously anti-Democrats, but even so, if Pelosi and all would jump off the proverbial bridge, I assume you would, too…does any of this make sense to you???

      • It’s a scam because the politicians demand compliance but don’t follow themselves. You see the difference?

        • Didn’t we learn in kindergarten that two wrongs don’t make a right? Shame on anyone who doesn’t comply, but it doesn’t make the science any different.

          • How about the Golden Rule. Did we learn that one? So I am supposed to lay down and be scolded by dumb politicians who mandate that I wear a
            Mask when they don’t and scoff at their own rules!! Are you kidding me! Are we living in the Soviet Union?

  11. The requirement for masks indoors should definitely be enforced!

    • Alina Rodescu-Pitchon

      This is a PANDEMIC. It’s not a “he/she didn’t do it, so why should I” third grade situation. There is a mask mandate and it should be enforced. The pandemic has already become endemic because people didn’t take it seriously. Listen to the science, which states that even if you’re vaccinated, you can still get COVID and spread it, and do the right thing…WEAR A MASK.

  12. Raymond, Raymond, Raymond, Raymond….

    • Don’t tsk me. You’re not my guardian or parent. Stop inflicting your way of life on me. This is still America in spite of the damage caused by politicians

      • Then take responsibility and don’t inflict Covid on others. If you’re not going to do it voluntarily, we need laws to force you to. Covid is not a joke–it kills.

        • Well. I have taken responsibility. Don’t lecture me. I am vaccinated and cannot transmit the virus. That’s why WE WERE TOLD
          TO GET VACCINATED

  13. I personally disagree with the mandate, I respect and don’t mind wearing a mask in places like Stop and Shop and CVS due to the fact that people do not have a choice about having to go to such places. So, to respect the compromised people, it makes sense.

    But, to mandate masks at a bar or anything like that is hilariously silly. You need to wear a mask to walk in the door, but then go stand shoulder to shoulder with people. To go to a bar, you are making a conscious decision. Wearing a mask for 3.6 seconds while you walk through the front door or if you’re good, putting the mask back on for the 15 foot walk to the bathroom is utterly pointless.

    People should be vaccinated but also able to make adult decisions. No need to live in a nanny state. The hospitalized people are overwhelmingly unvaccinated. They choose to not be vaccinated, they shall suffer the consequences.

    • Unfortunately, the unvaccinated’s consequences are not just suffered by those individuals. They are thrust upon everyone they come into contact with and have slammed our hospitals, emergency rooms, doctors, nurses and everyone else who has to work there.

      If you think only the unvaxed suffer as a result of their stupidity, tell that to yourself when you have a heart attack and are waiting in the ER hallway for someone to attend to you but none are available because they’re cleaning up the covid confederates in aisle 7.

      “Ask not what what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

  14. We went to pick up pizza at a favorite place and two of four employees weren’t wearing masks. We called the next day and told the manager how much we love the place but we couldn’t continue if we come back again and see staff without masks.

    • Isn’t that hat decision hurting for their business and being selfish as someone accused me of being? Funny how it’s only one sided.

  15. What entitlement! Waaa, waaa, waaa. Evidently, we are not plagued by just a “me” generation, but a “me” society. Every time I see my 3 and 5 year old grandsons with a mask, it makes me so sad – and so proud. Is it really so hard to wear a mask in a store for a few minutes so we can get to the point when we can refer to Covid-19 in the past? So we can all take those masks off permanently? So an entire generation of children do not grow up unable to read facial social cues? Have we all forgotten the principle on which our democracy was founded: individual rights balanced by relinquishing some of those rights for the common good? Good God, wear the damn mask for a while so we can get past this!!!!

  16. Get your Vaccine shots ! PERIOD
    Yes there are some that can not, but too too many have not that should.
    We older folk were mandated to have polio, flu, smallpox, MMR, in the past as a public health decision for the greater public good. Kinda like not having freedom of speech to yell FIRE in a theater.
    Entrance to Indoor events should be limited by vaccine adherence not masks, large gatherings, large events and gatherings and yes schools (for those of approved age) included. Religious and certified medical conditions exempt.
    GET THE SHOT

  17. Dan, this is a ‘DUH”. until this pandemic is OVER. THE MASK MANDATE SHOULD BE ENFORCED AND IT’S NOT SHAMEFUL TO POINT OUT BUSINESSES WHERE THE STAFF DOES NOT COMPLY. OR CUSTOMERS ARE IN THERE WITHOUT. A MASK. KEEP ON IT DAN AND DON’T PAY ANY ATTENTION TO THE NAYSAYERS. THANKS AS ALWAYS FOR YOUR DILIGENCE AND INTELLIGENCE.

  18. When I wear a mask, I protect you. When you wear a mask, you protect me.
    GET THE SHOT, WEAR THE MASK AND SAVE LIVES. The life you save may be your own.

  19. I agree with many here who have said that calling out people/ businesses who are not complying with the latest covid rules, which differ widely town to town, is not the way to go. It is evident that there are many viewpoints on the subject and the data is not clear enough to generate rules across the board. So the only control that is appropriate is on a personal level. If you are uncomfortable with an environment, don’t go there. This call to Enforce such a controversial rule sounds at best inappropriate and at worst like fascism, especially when you talk about ratting people out as part of the enforcement process. That is Un- American. You have the freedom to do business where you chose. Leave it at that.

  20. *choose

  21. Enough with the mandates, everyone has had more than ample time to get vaccinated. It’s like the flu now, learn to live with it.

    • The flu kills about 35,000 americans each year. That’s about the same number as those who are killed via firearms each year.

      Covid has killed over 650,000 in a year and a half.

      Covid is NOT like the flu. That was one of the original lies rolled out by DJT. It’s still a lie today.

  22. So it’s un-American to enforce rules? That sounds a lot like a very recent reign of terror.

  23. It’s not un-American to enforce rules; I wasn’t inferring that. I thought I was clear that it’s the rule that’s in question, as I see it, as all you have to do is go one or two towns north, west, or east and the rule is not there. Wearing masks is not the answer to closing down the pandemic. Herd immunity is.

  24. DITTO Paul Cahil!! Just put on a mask. I just wore one for 15 hours straight and after15 minutes I forgot it was on! Come on, just do it. Stop being so utterly self centered people. This is a world wide health crisis. Not a statement about personal rights. Deb Howland-Murray’s last 2 sentences above also hit the nail on the head!! Sacrifice for the common good! Of course, those who should listen probably aren’t going to be reading this wonderful blog!

  25. Thanks for all the comments, representing a variety of points of view. To avoid more back-and-forth, I’m asking that comments now be limited to readers who have not yet weighed in. If you’ve already posted comments, thank you. We hear you loud and clear!

  26. Keeping people from getting sick and dying was once a goal everyone shared. But a new Ice Age is here. Only the dinosaurs are different.

  27. Based on how messed up our society is, I decided that I will do what I need to do to protect myself, and my family. Others can do what they want, and prolong this pandemic, torturing everyone else. To me, wearing any old cloth on your face is a joke – its not going to do much of anything to stop spread – unless perhaps that person is incapable of covering their mouth and nose when they sneeze. Surgical masks dont do much filtering either, things go out the sides, and right on through, some droplets may be captured from the person expelling, but it does not really filter for the person breathing in (hence why doctors wear them in the operating room, to capture their own droplets from falling into a patient during surgery, not to protect the doctor). Then come KN95, tons of knock-offs, and they are built with leakage, nowhere as good as N95. Then N95, still might not protect 100% but a lot better than the other options. If you can find N100 or P100, you may be even better off, but I still think some virus particles can sneak on through, I opted to wear 100-rated during the height of the pandemic. I went grocery shopping every week, did extremely risky activities (being around infected people), and never caught the virus. I feel that our government let us down big time. There should have been plenty of N95 for all Americans, dispensers at stores, real lock downs, real mandates, etc. For America, withholding important information, politics, and selfishness played a huge role in where we are today. At many points, the CDC seemed to be more focused on politics and the economy, than actual facts, data, and safety.

    The only thing I ask is that those working in food services and/or have to be in close contact with someone that has little-to-no choice wear something. Better than nothing capturing some droplets but still not safe, per say. Just the thought of droplets on my food and in my drink makes it undesirable.

    What has also become clear is vaccinated folk can still easily get and spread the virus. They can also get sick. they can also die. There was a case study on Barnstable MA from July of this summer. 74% that got the virus were vaccinated, per the study. Its clear vaccines are not going to end this. Its going to keep raging, unless our society gets a wake up call. What is also clear is data is emerging showing the vaccines may only be effective for a few months and by month 5 or so they apparently drop to 50% effective. 2-3 vaccines a year per person is just not sustainable.

    So back to my thoughts in January of 2020, before most anyone heard about this virus, and I was sure it was coming full speed to the USA: I think we are screwed. I do not think this will end any time soon. Its a shame. Until we can put facts, data, health, safety, and others ahead of politics, and often misguided beliefs.

  28. HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M HIGH RISK, AND WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
    Contact the Combat COVID Monoclonal Antibodies Call Center:

    1-877-332-6585

    https://combatcovid.hhs.gov/i-have-covid-19/how-do-i-know-if-im-high-risk

  29. Best way to send a message is to quit doing business with stores or people who don’t wear masks OR get a vaccine. It’s your choice, but hitting a business in the ‘pocket book’ is a clear message–and tell them why you are not going to do business. Could be a personal trainer, hair dresser, shop. It’s time for some tough love.

  30. I have not noticed such a serious problem. Some people just forget. We have a nice town, a polite and friendly reminder is enough. It is sad to hear any suggestion to turnWestport into a police state. It is easier to just walk away than destroy our community with penalties and heavy policing.

  31. If a new strain of Covid appeared that was 50% fatal – I wonder how many naysayers would be on line demanding that they get vaccinated immediately, began wearing masks and demanding all non mask wearers to wear a mask. Bodies on the street are an eyeopener! People coughing, wheezing and turning blue on the street corner are frightening!

    The problem is we don’t see enough sick and dying people!!

    Paralyzed kids in wheelchairs got everyone on line for their Polio vaccine in the 1950’s- who in their right mind would say it is my right to not get my kid vaccinated!! No problem with constitutional rights in the 1950’s.

    Well guess what did happen to COVID- Delta variant appeared and it is 100 times as contagious as the original strain! A raging epidemic of the unvaccinated with some mostly non fatal breakthrough in the vaccinated.

    Problem is many people don’t want to take it seriously, interpret what’s happening by what they see and don’t believe the statistics- 650 thousand Americans dead in 2 years- didn’t see them, 1 in 500 gone- didn’t see them, long haulers among the survivors.- didn’t see them. Funeral homes with out door freezers for overflow bodies- didn’t see them.

    They don’t see the overcrowded ERs till they get sick and are being admitted. They don’t see the regular problems being sent to alternate ERs to be treated because their local ERs are overwhelmed with sick people who can’t breath and there were no ICU beds or ventilators- see Idaho!.

    In 1967-68 the Marburg virus appeared that was pretty close to 100% fatal no matter how you were treated- I was in the USPHS at CDC when that one first reared it’s ugly head. And more recently in 2014 Ebola had a fatality rate of over 50%- if you were lucky enough to get excellent treatment. Luckily they were not as easily spread by droplets. Luckily they stayed in their countries of origin- one air flight away from the USA. Luckily AIDS isn’t spread by respiratory droplets. But meases is spread by respiratory droplets and vaccination is required by schools.

    And bogus claims about medicines are being shot down just like they were for polio, small pox, tetanus and rabies. You need a vaccination.

    Covid death rate if unvaccinated – 1 to 2 % if your healthy, 10 to 15% or higher if your old, hypertensive, diabetic, have cancer or are immunosuppressed.

    Come on folks- lets just wear masks (any masks are much better than none) and get vaccinated to protect yourselves and the rest of us- you and your family, me and my family. That’s how we beat the virus, that’s how we really keep our businesses open, that’s how we really get back to what life should be like!

    Or you may decide to just stand up for your rights, deny vaccines or masks help and just get sick, giving the COVID virus more time and chance to evolve into a more lethal variant that can evade the current or future vaccines- perhaps evolving in you!!

    Then we will all be left with Hydroxychloroquine (an anti malaria medicine), Ivermectin (a horse deworming medicine) or whatever the local witch doctor or politician thinks can help- without any trials or testing to prove safety and efficacy.

    Discuss!

  32. PROPERTY VALUES? If our towns vax, mask, and otherwise keep down COVID numbers and suppress surges, does that help attract home buyers and businesses? Does constructive data-driven community action make a town more attractive to smart and successful people than pro-plague protesters? If health sense doesn’t persuade, does property cents? As an aside, to hedge my bets, I’m buying stock in herbicides and pesticides — which may be the next wave of wacky CV cures after iodides?

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