Governor Discourages Public Events of 100 Persons or More
Governor Lamont Discourages Large Public Gatherings Greater than 100 Persons in Response to COVID-19
First Selectman Jim Marpe announced that Governor Ned Lamont, in a joint statement late this afternoon with the CT Department of Public Health (DPH), is discouraging large public gatherings attracting more than 100 persons in response to the COVID-19 virus.
The State has partially activated its Emergency Operations center in response to the accelerating impact of the COVID-19 virus into the region and the growing threat within the State. The Emergency Operations Center held a conference call today at 5:00pm for all Emergency Operations Managers, Municipal Chief Elected Officials and key staff to hear an update of the recommended protocol.
According to Governor Ned Lamont, large crowds or places where individuals are shoulder-to-shoulder are considered the most dangerous and should be avoided, particularly for individuals over the age of 60. While the directive is neither a mandate, nor a declaration of a State of Emergency, the Governor’s message was clear that the State needs to implement policies that discourage the spread of the virus. For example, the Governor is also instituting a freeze on out-of-state business travel for all state employees, as well as the postponement of any State-organized conferences anticipated to have more than 100 people in attendance, and urging private employers to consider similar precautions.
The Chief Elected Officials and Superintendent of Schools are responsible for the decisions and details on how localities respond to this directive. First Selectman Marpe is working closely with Interim Superintendent of Schools, Dr. David Abbey on a plan to address this recommendation on a local basis.
According to First Selectman Marpe, “Based on the directive from the Governor’s Office, the Town of Westport strongly encourages residents to re-think attendance at gatherings of more than 100 individuals and large gatherings where individuals might be shoulder-to-shoulder. We recognize that this will impact a number of recurring or long-planned and important activities, but we ask organizers and attendees to give appropriate consideration to the Governor’s request.”
The Town of Westport’s administration and Board of Education are following the guidelines from the CT DPH, with the local support and guidance from the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD). For the time being, town functions are operating as normal, but with extra attention being given to cleanliness and disinfection of the facilities and equipment.
COVID-19 is an evolving situation and today’s announcement is an example of that. There has been ongoing planning and decision making in response to the situation, and residents are encouraged to maintain connections with the Town resources so that up-to-date information can be received effectively, efficiently, and as quickly as possible. To keep residents, students and businesses informed, the Town will utilize press releases, its website, and its social media pages for all of its COVID-19 announcements.
- The Westport emergency notification system is a text message-based alert system run by the Fire Department. Any resident not already signed up for these notifications can text 06880 to 888777 to subscribe.
- The Town webpage dedicated to COVID-19 can be found at Westportct.gov/COVID-19.
- The hashtag #WestportctCOVID-19info will be used for updated information on the Town’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter social media accounts. This will also be utilized by the Fire, Police and Parks Departments.
- To follow the Town’s press release coverage, please go to WestportCT.Gov/subscribe and select “town news.”
The Department of Public Works has instituted an extra rigorous cleaning regimen in all public spaces and released a memorandum on March 6 alerting staff and elected officials of its procedures and best practices. The Board of Education sent a Coronavirus update informing parents of the importance of handwashing and the district’s use of cleaning agents, as well as contingency planning. On Tuesday, March 10, the schools will have a three-hour delay so that professionals can prepare for the possibility of home-based learning. Both memos are found on the Town’s Westportct.gov/COVID-19 page.
The Town management, Public Safety professionals, the WWHD leadership and all department heads are working together with the Westport Public Schools to design contingency plans if the situation evolves to a point where town and school functions may need to be altered. For example, the Board of Education is examining home-based instructional continuity and other strategies in the event of a school or district closing. Town Hall staff are preparing to offer some public services on a remote basis if necessary. The Westport Center for Senior Activities is also preparing to operate as a drop-in-center in case programs must be cancelled. Conducting public meetings may become challenging, but much of this will have to be determined based on a case-by-case basis.
For the time being, First Selectman Marpe urged residents to follow these best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hand.
- Wash your hands frequently. While hand sanitizer may be effective, vigorous handwashing using regular soap is best.
- Greet others with an elbow bump instead of a handshake.
- Stay home if you are feeling unwell.
- If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, call your healthcare professiona