Greenwich Enters New Normal As Most COVID Restrictions Are Lifted
GREENWICH, CT— Greenwich residents entered a new normal on Wednesday, as most of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place in Connecticut for over a year have been lifted.
Vaccinated people are not required to wear masks outdoors or indoors; only those who haven’t been vaccinated must wear masks on an honor code system. Businesses and state and local government offices have the option to require masks to be worn. They will still be required by everyone in certain settings such as healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools and childcare.
On Greenwich Avenue on Wednesday afternoon, several restaurants were bustling with patrons during the lunch hour both indoors and outdoors. Those looking to shop strolled up and down the Avenue, some with masks, some without. First Selectman Fred Camillo said it’s good to see people being cautious, but it’s equally nice seeing a semblance of normalcy.
“You’re seeing signs still up on businesses that say if you come in, please wear a mask. I do see people with them still, and that tells me that people are still thinking about it, which is good,” Camillo said. “Some are still thinking about getting the vaccine, which is also very good that they’re being respectful of others and careful. I wouldn’t want to see everybody without a mask right now, but I love seeing some without it.”
Camillo said the town is going to “keep steady” with its mask policy right now and encourage people to bring a mask with them wherever they go.
“You may not be able to go into certain places, so bring a mask with you. When you’re outside and away from people, take it off, get the sun, breathe fresh air, enjoy, and get some normalcy back in your lives.”
Camillo said the policy at Town Hall will be reviewed in a few weeks as officials continue to monitor the pandemic and watch the case numbers.
At South Bay Greenwich, a Mediterranean restaurant located at 403 Greenwich Ave., Wednesday represented a new era in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is something everyone has been looking forward to in Greenwich now that summer is upon us. It’s a new season, and this is sort of a new beginning. It’s the end of a long year,” said restaurant General Manager, Mauricio Andrade. Harvest Wine Bar and Restaurant across the street is also owned by the same group.
Plexiglass partitions were still set up between tables indoors at both South Bay and Harvest, and will remain going forward. Andrade said that the restaurants are taking the conservative approach to start.
“We are keeping things in place. We don’t want to be the first ones to take everything out… We are being a little conservative in the sense that we see the reaction of the guests,” Andrade said, adding that one customer earlier in the day was hesitant to take off their mask indoors.
“We’re still a tourist point. A lot of people want to get out of the city, and their first stop is Greenwich. There’s a traffic increase now. We still want to be a little conservative and mindful and sensitive for the guests and residents of Greenwich.”
Up the street at Putnam Restaurant, owner Nick Nikas stood outside and observed his customers enjoying lunch along the Avenue. Nikas said he prefers that customers wear masks when they come inside.
“A lot of people feel more secure with it. I’ve been vaccinated, my staff has been vaccinated, but because there are some people who haven’t and because there are people who are still uncomfortable, we should continue to wear masks.”
According to the Greenwich Time, Balducci’s, the grocery store on East Putnam Avenue, is still requiring customers to wear masks. The Time also said that J. Crew, which has a location on Greenwich Avenue, is also still requiring masking and social distancing. To read more from the Greenwich Time, click here.
Marcia O’Kane, President and CEO of the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, said each business will decide what’s best as far as masking, and changes will be made in the days ahead.
O’Kane said Wednesday was a very exciting first step for everyone in town.
“There is euphoria coming from both shoppers and retailers as the mask mandate is being lifted because it signals our return to a new normal,” she said. “As the weather improves and we are all outdoors more, we collectively feel safer. We are slowly re-emerging from a long period of isolation into a new light.”