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Scott Cancels Summer Fairs, But You Can Finally Get A Haircut Next Week

Gov. Phil Scott stands at a podium next to a screen
ORCA Media
Gov. Phil Scott, seen here at his press briefing Friday, said allowing fairs and festivals to proceed this summer could lead to a resurgence of COVID-19 in Vermont.

Gov. Phil Scott announced an easing of social distancing orders Friday that will allow dentists, hair salons, drug and alcohol counselors and churches to proceed with limited reopenings. But he ordered the cancellation of all fairs and festivals this summer in what he said should serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of mass gatherings.

Scott said the phased-in reopening of the Vermont economy that began last month doesn’t appear to have intensified the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

With only 20 new confirmed cases over the past week, and second-slowest COVID-19 growth rate in the country, Scott issued a revised executive order Friday that will allow many “close-contact” businesses to resume operations.

More from VPR: Gov. Scott Eases Restrictions As Vermont's COVID Cases Lowest In Nation

All buinesses permitted to reopen will have to follow new health guidelines provided by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

Barbers and hair salons are permitted to open their doors beginning next Friday, May 29, though they cannot have more than a total of 10 customers and staff inside their shops at a single time. Dentists, too, are allowed to resume operations, though they’ll be limited to “low-aerosol” procedures until at least June 1.

Hospitals, which had until Friday been limited to outpatient elective procedures, can now schedule surgeries that require overnight stays.

Scott said gyms and spas will have to wait to reopen, however, and that restaurants will be limited to outdoor seating until further notice.

“I know some would like easier answers … and a quick return to normal,” Scott said. “But unfortunately this isn’t how the virus operates, and we have to deal with this reality.”

Mass gatherings canceled

Scott said Vermont will also have to deal with reality of no fairs or festivals this summer. Scott said the Vermont Fairs and Field Days Association sought guidance from his administration recently on whether to proceed with scheduled events.

On Friday, Scott issued an order canceling all “fairs and festivals.”

While Scott said he’s been reluctant to issue orders that affect events happening months in the future, he said he doesn’t see a way to proceed safely with mass gatherings this summer.

“We’re just not ready for large unstructured events with hundreds if not thousands of coming into one area without control and the ability to physically separate,” Scott said.

Out-of-state quarantine remains

Scott said the 14-day quarantine order for out-of-state visitors to Vermont will also remain in effect for the foreseeable future.

Scott said he understands the directive will put a drag on the summer tourism season. But he said neighboring states are experiencing more concerning coronavirus trends that could easily set back progress in Vermont.

New Hampshire has reported 571 new cases of COVID-19 over the past week, while Massachusetts has confirmed about 8,500 new cases, and New York 16,000.

Correction 3:50 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect that salons and barbershops can open their doors not immediately, but starting next Friday, May 29.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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