NORWALK, CT — Norwalk is reverting to Phase 2 reopening efforts, as the city grapples with a continued rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, Mayor Harry Rilling announced Thursday. The rollback will take effect at noon on Nov. 1 to allow businesses to prepare.
The city was placed on red alert status last week by Gov. Ned Lamont and state health officials, due to Norwalk exceeding 15 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. The number of red alert communities in Connecticut now stands at 30, up from 19 last week, according to the state.
At that time, the city's rate of infection was 18.9 new coronavirus cases per 100,000, but that number more than doubled to 40.5 and then to 48.9 per 100,000 between Oct. 18 and Oct. 24. Norwalk also reported its first coronavirus-related deaths this week, after more than three weeks without one.
To date, 151 Norwalk residents have died as a result of the virus.
This week, Rilling has been under quarantine due to exposure to a family member who tested positive for COVID-19. The mayor has tested negative twice since then.
As of Thursday, 54 new coronavirus cases were reported in Norwalk, bringing the city's total to 2,984 since the pandemic began in March, according to health officials. No new deaths were reported.
The city was at Phase 3 reopening, which meant restaurants, personal services, gatherings and sporting events could operate at 75 percent capacity. On Nov. 1, that number rolls back to 50 percent.
Additionally, Phase 2 also calls for:
Private gatherings to drop from 100 people to 25 people indoors, and 150 people to 100 people outdoors
Religious gatherings to decrease from up to 200 people to a maximum of 100 people indoors
"This is a difficult decision, as I do not want to see our local businesses impacted, but my priority remains the health and safety of our residents," Rilling said. "Our cases are rising, and I am deeply concerned. We are now seeing increased cases for those over 70 years of age, and we know this population is at higher risk of serious illness and death from this virus."
The city will host another free, drive-thru coronavirus testing session on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the parking lot at Norwalk Community College on Richards Avenue.
"We have ramped up testing to try to slow this virus down, but it continues to spread rapidly, as people are not following all public health guidelines," Rilling said. "Residents must take this seriously. Please, stay home if you can, limit travel and errands whenever possible, and always wear a face covering in public."