Effective today, Wednesday, May 19, 2021, Connecticut is lifting its mask mandate for vaccinated individuals per Executive Order No. 12.  During a press conference on May 17th, Governor Lamont announced that Connecticut will follow the CDC’s lead in loosening COVID-19 restrictions based on positive indicators including scientific data showing the effectiveness of vaccines, decreased COVD-19 test positivity and hospitalization rates, and increasing vaccination rates throughout the State.  In addition, all of the other COVID-19 sector rules for businesses that had been implemented last spring will also be lifted today.

Here is a summary of the State’s updated mask protocol:

  • Outdoors: Masks are not required for vaccinated or unvaccinated persons;
  • Indoors: Masks are only required for unvaccinated persons in public settings who do not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person; individuals who are vaccinated are no longer required to wear a mask, except that:
    • Businesses, state and local government offices and event venues may choose to require universal masking subject to CDC and OSHA guidance; and
    • Masks will still be required in any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing or similar service, commercial aircraft, or any means of mass public transit, or while within any airport, bus or train station, enclosed transit stop or waiting area, homeless shelter or correctional facility.

Later today, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is expected to issue revised recommendations and considerations for masks in businesses, large gatherings and events, and other settings, as well as a detailed description of the settings in which masks are still required.  The new policy gives business owners the authority to decide what works best for their business.  Businesses should review the DPH’s recommendations in conjunction with the most recent CDC and OSHA guidance, consider their own unique client or customer base and the needs of their employees, and seek legal counsel as needed when crafting their own masking policies.

Notably, as related to mask mandates in schools and childcare, the executive order allows the Commissioner of Education and the Commissioner of Early Childhood to issue rules requiring masks in schools.  However, during the May 17 briefing, Governor Lamont highly encouraged a mask requirement in schools given that most students are not yet eligible for vaccination.  Due to this lack of clarity, we expect that additional guidance will be released in the near future, and will continue to update our readers with new information as it becomes available.

That said, as the pandemic continues to unfold, keep in mind that masking and other restrictions may be reinstated depending on an increase in the State’s positivity rate and/or hospitalizations, the spread of variants, and vaccination rates.  Nevertheless, the State’s policy signals the beginning of a potential return to pre-pandemic normalcy.