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May 19, 2021

CT mask rules ease; workplace enforcement up to businesses


After about 13 months, the era of the COVID-19 face mask in Connecticut is beginning to end.

Starting today, May 19, Connecticut no longer requires fully vaccinated people to wear face masks in most workplace and public settings.

Exceptions include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, airplanes, buses, trains and other settings.

Unvaccinated people are still required to wear a face covering, but the state -- which last year implemented fines for violators -- will no longer enforce the mask rules, leaving it up to businesses and employers.

Already, CVS, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s and Costco have announced they are phasing out masking rules for vaccinated customers.

Approximately 1.75 million Connecticut residents -- 62% of the adult population -- have been fully vaccinated, according to the latest data.

In the initial weeks of the pandemic, which struck Connecticut in March 2020, top U.S. health officials and agencies initially said the public did not need to wear masks for protection. The Centers for Disease Control reversed its position on masks in early April 2020.

Last week, the CDC issued updated advice, which is what is guiding Gov. Ned Lamont and other states that are lifting restrictions.

Prior to the May 13 CDC guidance, Lamont had already announced he would lift capacity restrictions on numerous businesses on May 19.

Despite the receding restrictions, some major Hartford employers told HBJ this month they are targeting September to start bringing more of their remote employees back to the office.

It’s not exactly clear what effect the CDC’s latest mask guidance, which came out after HBJ’s story had gone to press, will have on employers’ plans.

However, Lamont told 30,000 state government workers that they would have to return on June 1 or July 1, depending on their job functions.

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