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Health

With Connecticut's Mask Mandate Lifted, Will Face Coverings Disappear?

Connecticut has essentially lifted its mask mandate. Face coverings will continue to be required in places like schools and health care facilities, but elsewhere as of Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont has largely left the decision up to business owners.

A quick poll of small business owners in busy West Hartford Center revealed that some will still require masks, but others won’t.

“If you feel comfortable and you don’t want to wear a mask, I’m OK with you not wearing a mask,” said Aaron Sarwar, who runs Shish Kebab House of Afghanistan. “If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask. That’s basically the way that I’m going about it. My staff’s all vaccinated. I’m vaccinated -- as long as my staff’s protected and if any customers want to sit away from other patrons, we’ve been doing that.”

Opinion varies among consumers, too. Khedhrah Farah says she’ll only wear a mask if it’s required.

“Actually, I never liked masks. I don’t believe in masks. I don’t believe in the vaccine. So, I’m glad they’re lifting that,” she said.

Saalihh Chowdhury said he will still do the mask.

“I’m a health care worker. I wear masks for like 12 to 14 hours in a row, so it really doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I think people should keep their masks on indoors for the time being until maybe we’re like 80 to 90 percent vaccinated.”

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Credit Joe Amon / Connecticut Public
Allie Fackler, who is against wearing a mask, decides on a treat with her 2-year-old daughter Kali at Arethusa Farm Dairy Cafe in West Hartford on May 19. Manager Angie Kaldy said the cafe will continue with mask restrictions for the next 30 days.

Connecticut residents will have to keep up with the rules as they differ across all types of establishments. CVS Pharmacy, for example, says customers don’t have to wear a mask in their stores if they’re fully vaccinated. Walmart has also left the decision up to customers. But other big box stores -- Home Depot, for example -- will keep the mandate in place for now.

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy changed its policy at the last minute and decided not to require masking at its commencement exercises Wednesday. Everyone attending was required to be vaccinated.

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Credit Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public
Kevin McCorrey says that even though the state mandate has lifted, he likes to keep his mask on indoors. He said he likes to keep it off outdoors to get fresh air.

New Hampshire’s mask mandate expired last month. Lori Donahue was in New London to see her son Dylan graduate. She says she has still worn a mask even after New Hampshire’s mandate was lifted.

“This is really the first time -- these past few days -- that we’ve been in a social setting like this without masks, and it is liberating. It feels really good. It feels really normal.”

New London resident Tommy Thompson was watching his son Trent graduate. “The sun’s out. It couldn’t be a more beautiful day than today. Masks off. We’re ready for normalcy to return.”

Yard Goats
Credit Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public
Hartford Yard Goats patrons at Dunkin' Donuts Stadium on May 19. Fully vaccinated fans are no longer required to wear masks at games.