On March 17, 2020

Governor’s order ends dine-in service at restaurants, bars starting 2 p.m. Tuesday

By Aidan Quigley and Anne Wallace Allen/VTDigger

On Monday, March 16, Gov. Phil Scott ordered bars and restaurants to stop offering dine-in service across the state effective 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

It is his administration’s latest effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Vermont.
Establishments can only offer take-out and delivery services through April 6.

The announcement was made on the heels of a decision earlier in the day to ban gatherings of more than 50 people — indoors or outdoors — in gyms, auditoriums, meeting halls, stadiums and arenas.

In a press release, the governor’s office said the new order regarding restaurants and bars reflected the growing number of coronavirus cases in Vermont, new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Vermont Department of Health, and discussions with neighboring states.

Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut closed their restaurants to all but takeout and delivery over the weekend.

“Additional reductions or prohibitions may be implemented or amended as needed,” the  Vermont governor’s office said.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Vermont doubled to 12 Monday, and Scott also announced an executive order limiting gatherings to 50 people. Scott ordered Sunday that the state’s schools close no later than Wednesday until early April at the earliest.

“I want Vermonters to know we’re continuously evaluating other mitigation steps and we’ll continue to communicate those as they are put into place,” said Scott. “It’s important to remember that in times of crisis we all need to make sacrifices. But Vermonters, and all Americans, have risen to many challenges before, and this time will be no different.”

Many Vermont restaurant and bar owners said they had expected the governor to halt dine-in service. Before the governor’s announcement, several restaurants took that step themselves.

Lindsay Kurrle, secretary at Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, informed lawmakers of the decision on Monday afternoon.

“The governor is going to be making an announcement probably within the hour, about bars and restaurants,” Kurrle told the Legislature’s Joint Rules Committee. “I would like to let him explain his decision behind that — making sure people are taking this seriously, trying to mitigate this now.”

Kurrle said other businesses — like gyms and hair salons — were not going to be forced to close, last she spoke with the governor, but added: “Things are changing all the time.”


Photo by Glenn Russell

Lindsay Kurrle, Vermont’s secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, speaks at a press conference with Rep. Peter Welch on March 16.

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