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4/3/20 - COVID-19 Update from First Selectman Jim Marpe

Post Date:04/03/2020 4:30 PM

First Selectman Jim Marpe issued the following message today.

Yesterday’s tragic announcement that Westport had its first COVID-19 death is a reminder to us all that we must stay disciplined and continue to do all that we can to slow the spread of this virus. Your actions and diligence will encourage others to comply. Self-isolation and virus distancing ensures your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of your neighbors, your community and beyond. I am confident and proud that together, Westport will lead the way in flattening the curve. 

I want to emphasize the concept, that “you are not stuck in your homes; you are safe in your homes.”  If you must go to a store, if at all possible, only have a single family member enter the establishment. Under the Governor’s recent Executive Order, store occupancy will be capped at 50% of its local fire code capacity. Staff will maintain a count of the number of customers entering and exiting the building. If you go out in your neighborhood to exercise or walk, follow all the distancing precautions.  And if you walk your dog, it must be on a leash. All of these efforts will help minimize exposure to the virus in public spaces.

I know that the majority of Westport residents are self-isolating and virus distancing, but it is apparent that some continue to gather unnecessarily in public parks and facilities. In order to be completely successful in flattening the curve, these non-compliance issues must be addressed. This week, people were continuing to use our closed public facilities, such as athletic fields and courts and other recreational areas, without the requisite social distancing, and many dogs were off- leash. Parks and Recreation Department staff, School Security staff and the Westport Police Department will now monitor these facilities to ensure compliance including the requirement that dogs must be on leash in all public areas. Parents, please impress upon your children that these precautions are absolutely necessary for their protection and the protection of those around them.

The Selectman’s Office and other Town staff are receiving valid questions and suggestions. They are being taken seriously; we hear your concerns and are working to manage and provide timely, accurate answers through these daily press releases.

One of those concerns relates to contractor and landscape work. Because it is spring, landscapers and other contractors are working in our neighborhoods. The Governor has deemed these services as essential and as a result, they are allowed to be performed. Regardless, all workers should maintain the 6-foot distance. As a customer, if you are uncomfortable with the manner in which work is being done on your private property, you should request a change or that the contractor cease work. 

Another question that is being raised is the potential for municipal tax relief.  Connecticut municipalities are unable to make tax policy without the approval of the State. Late this week, in part through our efforts, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7S, which includes directives that may provide relief for the municipal taxes that are due to be paid to Westport in April 2020. The Governor’s proposal includes two potential alternatives, but there are a number of details yet to be issued by his office. As soon as the additional details become available, we will prepare a Westport tax relief proposal. Per the Governor’s Executive Order, such a proposal must then be voted on by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). We will endeavor to act as quickly as possible once we receive further directions.

Finally, I appreciate how many of you have responded to our requests, remained in your homes and minimized social interaction.  I also want to express my sincere gratitude to those who have sent words of encouragement or have shown acts of kindness to Town employees and first responders, as well as healthcare and essential workers. They are working on the front lines to protect us, inform us, and keep us secure. Your efforts have brightened our days during these very stressful times.

This weekend, be smart, be safe and as much as possible, please stay at home.

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