Town Directs Salons, ‘Bodycare’ Facilities To Close at 5 p.m. Thursday

Municipal health officials on Thursday directed the owners of New Canaan salons and “bodycare” businesses to close at 5 p.m. and remain closed until further notice. According to an Emergency Order signed by the health director, the affected businesses include hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, skincare facilities and massage therapy facilities. 

The closures are “necessary actions to protect the public’s health” during the “pandemic emegency,” Jen Eielson said in the order, obtained by 

“Failure to comply with this order will result in your license being revoked,” she said in the order. 

The closures mark the latest major change for a community that is being asked to comply with restrictions that emergency officials have put in place in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

One New Canaan man already has succumbed to the virus, the first selectman said Thursday morning in a press release. Leaders at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church had said in a post last week that a member of the congregation had been diagnosed with COVID-19. On Thursday, church officials corrected local media reports regarding a pastor with the following statement: “The Rev. Elizabeth Garnsey does not, and has not had any symptoms, contrary to what has been published in some media outlets this morning.

New Garbage Compactor Behind Playhouse To Address Rodents, Stink, Mess

Months after hiring a pest control company to address a rodent problem out back of the Playhouse on Elm Street, the town is preparing to install a single trash compactor that will do away with the unsightly, scattered dumpsters that created the problem in the first place. 

Town officials additionally have instructed the owners of food service establishments, including Solé, to have their grease traps cleaned inside instead of leaving the smelly contraptions outside for servicing. Not only will the new City Carting compactor address the odor and ugliness of seven dumpsters lined up alongside the Playhouse Lot, but the town will use it instead of a pair of dumpsters now located at the end of the parking lot behind Town Hall, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. 

Asked about the aesthetic- and health-related problems that the compactors is expected to address, Mann said, “The site just wasn’t appealing, as far as, you pull into the Playhouse Lot because you’re going to walk down the alley to go to the signature downtown area of Elm Street, and the first thing that greets you is seven dumpsters.”

Those City Carting dumpsters are being paid for by individual property owners, Mann said, and in addition to the food service establishments using them—they’re stamped with the names representing Le Pain Quotidien, Solé and Bow Tie Cinemas—residents also were bringing down their own household garbage in the mornings and on weekends. 

The area wasn’t policed well and ended up being used as a drop-off spot for other items, too, Mann said—for example, for businesses to dump their linens for pickup by companies that serviced them. “It just started look really, really bad, then the garbage and grease and rest of it attracts rodents,” Mann said. “And I have a movie theater right there and we don’t need rodents near the movie theater. So the thought was, why don’t we try to consolidate all of them in one shot?”

A new slab has been poured and the compactor to be placed on it is expected to arrive within two weeks, Mann said.

Health Director: 100 Free Radon-Testing Kits Now Available to New Canaan Residents

In an effort to help residents find out whether they’re exposed to a cancer-causing radioactive gas, the New Canaan Health Department has partnered with the state to provide 100 locals with free home-testing kits. Those interested in obtaining a free radon test kit should contact the department at 203-594-3037 or email New Canaan Director of Health Jen Eielson at Supplies are limited and test kits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Invisible and odorless, radon is “released in rock, soil, and water formed from the breakdown of uranium,” Eielson said in a press release. 

Asked about the prevalence of radon in homes here, she estimated that “roughly 30 percent of the homes tested that I see have elevated levels of radon in New Canaan.”

“New Canaan is also geographically in Zone 1 which has the highest potential for radon,” Eielson added in an email. Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers in the United States, she said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon causes more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the country each year. 

The Health Department partnered with the Connecticut Department of Public Health Lead, Radon, & Healthy Homes program to offer the free radon home test kits for New Canaan residents.