On May 15, 2020

“Be smart, stay safe” replaces “stay home” order, state of emergency extended to June 15

Outdoor dining, close-contact businesses like salons, and others could be permitted to open by June 1.

By Anne Wallace Allen/VTDigger

With just one Covid-19 patient now in an ICU in a Vermont hospital, Gov. Phil Scott on May 15 continued to open the state to an economic recovery.

Scott promised he would relax the stay home/stay safe orders that have kept Vermonters in their homes since mid-March. While he extended the state of emergency to June 15, he assured Vermonters that if Covid-19 infection rates continue to stay very low, outdoor dining, close-contact businesses like salons, and other indoor businesses would be open by June 1. He also said the state’s limit on gatherings, now set at 10, would be expanded to 25 people.

“It’s incredible to think back on all that has happened since early March; we’ve all been through a lot,” the governor said at his three-times-a-week press conference. “Emotions are raw as we methodically reopen.”

The state also released guidance on lodging, effective May 22, covering inns and other lodging operations, short-term rentals, campground and marinas. Those businesses “will be able to accept overnight reservations from people who have met 14-day quarantine requirements,” said Lindsay Kurrle, the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Vermont residents and those who have been quarantined will have to fill out a questionnaire affirming that they have met quarantine requirements, she said.

Lodging operations, with some exceptions, will have to stay at 25% of capacity, Kurrle said — and operators will be responsible for making sure there are no more than 10 people gathered at a time. Lodging operators will have to keep a guest log for 30 days in case they are needed as part of contact tracing efforts.

“These requirements are less about where you are from, and more about where you have been, and who you have been in contact with,” said Kurrle, noting that Vermont residents who have been out of the state for an extended time must also meet quarantine requirements.

Michael S. Pieciak, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, has been overseeing the state’s modeling of the Covid-19 growth.

He said just one person is currently hospitalized in an ICU with the Covid-19 virus in Vermont.

“Our numbers continue to trend in a positive direction, giving us confidence we have the capability to serve Vermonters in our hospital system if there is a significant shift,” he said.

Pieciak said Vermont has the lowest three-day and seven-day growth rates of Covid-19 in the country.

“Your efforts have saved hundreds of lives; your sacrifice has made a real difference,” Scott said of social distancing and business closures.

Scott added that while businesses are reopening slowly throughout the next month, he would continue to issue guidance instructing Vermonters to practice social distancing.

“Even though we have allowed more to return to work, and more activities outside the home, and will continue taking more steps forward based on the data, we still need everyone to pay attention and stay vigilant,” Scott said. “If we do, we’ll be able to get out a little bit more. But staying close to home and limiting the number of people you come in contact with is really important.”

State parks canceled reservations through June 25, said Julie Moore, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources. Reservations for June 26 and after can be made on the State Parks website.

 

Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger. Gov. Phil Scott speaks at a press briefing on the state’s COVID-19 response on Friday, April 3, 2020. 

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