Mayor Harry W. Rilling announced today that following consecutive weeks at a COVID-19 red-alert level by the state Department of Health, he is moving the City of Norwalk back to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan effective 12 p.m. Sunday, November 1. The Mayor’s order is delayed to allow businesses time to adjust and meet Phase 2 criteria.
“This is a difficult decision, as I do not want to see our local businesses impacted, but my priority remains the health and safety of our residents. Our cases are rising and I am deeply concerned. We are now seeing increased cases for those over 70 years of age and we know this population is at higher risk of serious illness and death from this virus,” Mayor Rilling said. “We have ramped up testing to try to slow this virus down, but it continues to spread rapidly, as people are not following all public health guidelines. Residents must take this seriously. Please, stay home if you can, limit travel and errands whenever possible, and always wear a face covering in public.”
The City was first notified that it reached red-alert status per the state Department of Health on October 22. The alert is based on having more than 15 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a two week period. The State DPH reported Norwalk having 18.9 cases per 100,000 residents for the time period of 10/4 – 10/17. For the more recent time period of 10/11 – 10/24, Norwalk is reported to have 36.3 cases per 100,000 residents. Norwalk is one of 30 communities listed in a red-alert category by DPH this week, up from 19 communities last week. The state’s COVID-19 alert map is updated every Thursday.
Moving from Phase 3 into Phase 2 relates to capacity, with Phase 3 allowing for increased capacity at restaurants, personal services, events, private gatherings, and recreational events. At Phase 2, restaurants and personal services will move from 75% capacity to 50% capacity, private gatherings will move from 100 people to 25 people indoors, and 150 people to 100 people outdoors. Religious gatherings will also move from up to 200 people to a maximum of 100 people indoors. A side-by-side of the differences between the phases is available at norwalkct.org.
Mayor Rilling has also authorized additional staffing for increased enforcement and spot checks of local businesses starting this weekend. Any establishment found in violation of public health guidelines will be ordered closed for at least two weeks.
“It will take all of us to slow the spread of COVID-19. We will have a zero tolerance policy for restaurants, businesses, and establishments found flagrantly violating public health orders. Businesses have to be responsible for enforcing social distancing and ensuring patrons wear face coverings,” Mayor Rilling said. “A rise in cases is a situation public health experts predicted if guidelines were not followed. We are unfortunately seeing that ring true in Norwalk.”
Mayor Rilling continues to use the City’s CodeRED Emergency Alert Notification System to share important messages with the public. Residents are encouraged to sign up at norwalkct.org/codered.