Halloween is a special holiday for many of our children and families. Due to COVID-19 however, Halloween in Westport will look different from prior years. I am urging residents to be considerate and judicious in how they plan to partake in seasonal activities. It is incumbent upon all of us to insure a safe Halloween and upcoming holiday season.
Please follow the guidelines put forth by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding Halloween this year.
Because the annual Halloween Parade and trick-or-treating in Town Hall has typically drawn increased foot traffic and crowding, the town regrets that it will not host the event this year. Instead, the Westport Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring a Halloween House Decorating Contest to promote family involvement and community spirit during the holiday. I encourage everyone – young and old alike – to demonstrate their creativity and decorate their homes in the spirit of the season. For more information about the event, visit www.westportrecreation.com.
The Westport DMA, in collaboration with the town, is exploring a family-friendly Halloween event on October 25. More information on this proposal will be available in the coming week.
The CDC considers traditional trick-or-treating to be a high-risk activity and should be avoided. Rather, it recommends alternatives for celebrating the holiday with lower risk activities and small events that allow for reduced exposure and ease of contact tracing. Consider candy hunts, small “trunk or treats” with friends and family, crafts, virtual contests and other outdoor activities where social distance can be achieved. The CDC advises against wearing decorative masks over surgical masks. This year consider a costume that does not require a decorative mask so that a surgical or CDC-approved mask can be worn instead.
The State of Connecticut is entering Phase III of its reopening plan today. Be advised, however, that Phase III continues to cap the number of attendees at all private indoor gatherings at 25. Trick-or-treating and gatherings at locations where Halloween has traditionally prompted increased crowds, either indoors or on town roadways such as Gault Avenue and the Compo Beach area, are strongly discouraged.
If you do decide to participate in trick-or-treating on October 31, we recommend that it is done with increased precautions. Again, follow the CT Halloween Guidance and the recommendations from the CDC. Trick or treaters should be aware that if a home is darkened, it is likely not partaking in Halloween festivities and that decision should be respected. Limit the amount of homes visited. Town officials advise parents to not drop off children in certain neighborhoods. Instead, it is advisable to keep all trick-or-treaters in their own neighborhoods. We also request that residents not arrange for food trucks or other food, drink or entertainment that promotes gathering in neighborhoods.
In addition to Halloween, the CDC site also has guidance for the upcoming holiday season. Please consider reviewing the guidance from the State and the CDC before making plans for your holidays.
Reopen Strategy for Town Hall
Since March, town departments and staff have developed and utilized effective and efficient strategies that allowed municipal services to be provided to the public under the conditions imposed by COVID. With the continued risk of the virus and its potential for transmission, especially in the colder months, the town will continue to offer remote services as they are currently provided. Staff will continue to focus on phone and email communication to transact town business.
For business that must be conducted in-person, plans are underway to transition these appointments from the exterior tent to a controlled and sanitized environment within Town Hall. For the foreseeable future, to allow for contact tracing and to protect the health of staff and visitors, Town Hall will be open for in-person business by appointment only.
These decisions are for the protection of all residents and staff. Furthermore, if there were to be a transmission in Town Hall, an entire department risks closure. Such a closure would have significant ramifications on the ability to provide necessary services. We are confident that the current procedures in our buildings have been successful because there has been no evidence of transmissions from within town facilities. The safety and health of both the public and town employees remains paramount.
We call upon members of the public to participate in our virtual public meetings, by watching them live streaming on Optimum Channel 79, Frontier 6020 or the Town’s website (westportct.gov/watch). Public comment instructions are in each meeting agenda, which are found on the town’s online meeting calendar at westportct.gov/calendar.
If you have any questions for town staff, please use the staff directory at westportct.gov/directory. The search feature on the town’s website is the best way to find immediate answers to your questions during non-business hours. We also welcome feedback on the usefulness of information on our website.
Flu shots are recommended and may be administered by your personal physician or at various area pharmacies.
The Westport Weston Health District (WWHD) remains an invaluable resource for those residents seeking daily information and guidance related to COVID-19, the upcoming flu season, and other health-related issues that affect our community. Visit their site at www.wwhd.org for daily updates and case numbers
Visit the Town of Westport’s COVID page for links to both private and town reopening statuses, as well as resources and information for residents and businesses. Westportct.gov/covid19
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