Gov. Phil Scott on Friday announced a ban on inter-household gatherings, the closure of bars and social clubs, and the cancellation of recreational sports leagues as the Covid-19 case count rises in Vermont.
The governor said that too many Vermonters have not been following the state’s guidance on social distancing and limiting in-person gatherings, also indicating that Halloween parties contributed to the current rise in coronavirus cases.
“Given our recent case growth, we have no choice but to restrict social gatherings, whether at a home, a bar or in a parking lot,” Scott said. He added “multi-household gatherings, both inside and out, whether in public or private spaces, are prohibited.”
“I know this is incredibly discouraging,” Scott added. “Especially because many of you have worked so hard. And we’ve had much success for so long. But the fact is, people getting together, not being careful and letting their guard down, is why we’re in this position today.”
Scott added that bars and social clubs must be closed as of 10 p.m. on Saturday. He said restaurants could remain open for in-person service, but only until 10 p.m. (when they can continue take-out service).
The governor also announced that recreational sports would be put on hold, apart from those sanctioned by the Vermont Principals Association.
“Admittedly, this one is hard for me, because our kids are trying so hard, but it continues to be another opportunity for gathering and can spread the virus among multiple counties and multiple schools,” Scott said.
Vermont reported 84 cases of the virus Friday, according to slides at the press conference from Dr. Mark Levine, head of the Department of Health.
Those cases were lower than the previous day’s total, revised upward to 116, but remain far higher than the average number of new cases the previous week, according to Department of Health data.
The state also reported 21 people currently hospitalized for the virus, another rise from previous days. Three of those were in the ICU.
Every county reported at least one case, but Washington County reported the most, with 26 cases. It reported 48 cases the day before.
Test positivity remains low at 1.1%, compared to the state’s benchmark of 5%, but it is rising. It remained at less than 1% for most of the summer and fall.