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Scott Loosens Travel Restrictions Into And Out Of Vermont

Governor Scott speaks at press conference
Orca Media
Gov. Phil Scott today announced that out-of-state travel to and from certain counties across New York and New England will be allowed to resume, without mandatory quarantines.

In an effort to get Vermont’s economy going again, the Scott administration is easing travel restrictions into and out of Vermont.At a press conference Friday, Financial Regulation Commissioner Mike Pieciak said that the 14-day quarantine rule will no longer be in effect for people from certain mostly rural communities outside the state.

“There are many places across the Northeast with a low active case count, in which travel to and from would present low risk of infection," Pieciak said.

The new rule goes into effect June 8, and covers 55 counties in New England and New York, which represents about 3.6  million people.

Visitors from places like Boston and New York City are not covered by the relaxed guidelines, and commerce secretary Lindsay Kurrle said it will be hard to fully regulate the new rules.

For a timeline outlining Vermont's response to COVID-19, head here.

“Opening up the counties around our state and inviting folks here is going to require a little bit of trust and a lot of education and some effort on the part of the lodging industry," Kuurle said.

Kuurle said visitors will have to make reservations and verify where they are coming from.

The new guidelines also cover Vermonters who are traveling out of state.

People from Vermont who travel to one of the 55 counties covered in the new guidelines will not have to self-quarantine upon returning.

Credit Johns Hopkins University / courtesy Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
courtesy Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Data showing counties across New England and New York State according to the number of active cases of COVID-19 per million residents. ACCD will offer updated data on their website on a weekly basis.

The state is still asking Vermonters to self-quarantine when visiting an area not covered in the new regulations.

Restaurants and dining

Gov. Phil Scott also announced relaxed limits on how many customers can eat at restaurants .

The Scott Administration says restaurants can begin limited indoor dining on Monday.

Restaurants will be able to operate at 25% capacity, and there will have to be six feet of distance between tables.

“We’re going to have to change things up to re-open with this virus still among us," Scott said. "And that’s why, as I said on Wednesday, it won’t be dining as usual with this first step."

Traditional bar seating has to remain closed for now, and Scott said reservations will be required.

The governor said restaurant owners need more than this to survive, and restrictions will be eased further if the state continues to control the spread of COVD-19.

Under the new regulations, municipalities will be able to limit restaurant seating if there is a COVID-19 outbreak nearby.

Lodging and camping

Scott will also allow lodging and camping businesses to increase the number of customers who are allowed to spend a night in Vermont.

“And in the coming weeks we can expect to further reduce quarantine requirements to get this important sector of our economy moving again, but in a safe way," he said.

Two weeks ago Scott said motels and campgrounds could open, but at only 25% capacity.

Starting Monday all lodging and camping establishments can operate at 50% capacity.

Protests and demonstrations

The health department says people who attend protests and rallies should get tested for COVID-19.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the large gatherings could contribute to the spread of the new coronavirus.  

“You are protesting in support of fellow man, and against all of the causes that you are out there talking about. But now, be altruistic again and get yourself tested," Levine said.

More from VPR: Crowd Confronts Burlington Police During Protest For George Floyd

Levine said he fully supported the right of Vermonters to protest, and he said he's been encouraged by the number of people who have been showing up to the protests with masks, both here and across the country.

Marches have been held in Burlington, Brattleboro and St. Johnsbury, though Levine said there is no indication that the events have lead to an outbreak of COVID-19.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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