With more than 200 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the most of any city or two in Connecticut, Norwalk is taking emergency action to battle the pandemic.
On Sunday, March 29, Norwalk Mayor Harry W. Rilling issued three emergency orders. These orders become effective at 8 p.m. Monday, March 30 and will remain in place until further notice.
“I’ve asked nicely and implored the public to practice physical distancing and to treat this public health crisis seriously," Rilling said. "Unfortunately, many in our community are taking this too lightly.
"In the last 24 hours, we’ve had a 60 percent increase in cases and we now have over 200 positive cases. Extreme measures are necessary."
Rilling issued these orders under the powers of a Civil Preparedness Declaration he signed on Saturday, March 14. The orders follow the suspension of the Carry-Out Bag Ordinance. Retail stores are now permitted to stock single-use plastic bags for customers, and cannot charge 10-cents for paper bags until further notice.
The three measures are:
1. Vehicular traffic at all Norwalk parks and beaches, including Calf Pasture Beach, Taylor Farm, and Veteran’s Park, will be restricted. This order does not affect Norwalk employees who require access.
2. The maximum occupancy numbers inside all Norwalk businesses will be reduced to 50 percent of the Fire Marshal's previously established maximum occupancy numbers for each business.
For example, if maximum occupancy for a business is 250 people then the new maximum occupancy for that business shall be 125 people. This will limit the number of people inside any store at any given moment in time.
City officials also asked stores to immediately develop policies that limit members of the public from lining up at checkout or outside stores in tightly formed groups.
City officials want to make sure stores take necessary actions to ensure visitors are exercising physical distances of at least six feet from each other.
3. Norwalk families are to limit themselves to only one family member at the same time per visit to a Norwalk store, and exemptions are made for single parents, caregivers, and other situations where it is not feasible to leave a person home.
“I understand that families, especially those with young children, are experiencing cabin fever staying at home," Rilling said.
"However, taking the entire family out to a store to get out of the house during the COVID-19 outbreak is unnecessarily dangerous to both your family and everyone else in the store.
"To the extent that it is at all possible, I request that you not allow more than one family member to go at the same time to a store,” Rilling said. “Norwalk – I am pleading with you – take this crisis seriously. Protect yourselves and your families. Stay home and save lives.
"These are drastic measures, but it is the only way we can slow this pandemic," Rilling said. "Our healthcare system is going to be overloaded and that means more people getting sick and more people dying – not just from coronavirus, but from heart attacks, strokes, and other serious medical issues that require attention.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.