MONTPELIER, Vt. – To slow the spread of Covid-19 as cases and hospitalizations rise in Vermont and throughout the nation, Gov. Phil Scott has implemented several temporary limitations on social gatherings and business operations.
This news follows daily case counts of 72 reported on Wednesday, 109 reported on Thursday, and 84 on Friday, as well as an increase in hospitalizations in Vermont.
“We’ve had tremendous success thanks to the hard work of Vermonters, but we are at a pivotal moment,” said Scott. “We have an opportunity right now to get our arms around this record growth and return to the case stability we’ve grown accustomed to, but we all have to step up and recommit to following all current health guidance and to limit our contacts as much as possible. At the same time, the state is actively expanding testing and contact tracing protocols, so we are even better positioned to hunt this virus down and stop it in its tracks.”
To slow the spread, ensure hospitals are not overwhelmed, help schools continue to offer in-person instruction, and keep as many Vermonters working as possible, the state has targeted new mitigation strategies to address the areas that appear to be driving the spread. Since Oct. 1, 71% of the cases associated with an outbreak are associated with a private party or social gathering.
The following measures are effective Saturday, Nov. 14 at 10 p.m., unless otherwise noted. The Agency of Commerce and Community Development will provide additional guidance as needed.
Public and private multi-household social gatherings prohibited
Attendance at all public and private social gatherings, indoor and outdoor, including social gatherings incidental to ceremonies, holiday gatherings, parties, and celebrations, shall be limited to participation with only members of a single household. Individuals who live alone may gather with members of their immediate family residing in a different household.
Restaurant hours and seating limits
Restaurants must close in-person dining at 10 p.m., but may provide curbside and delivery service after 10 p.m. For in-person dining, restaurants must seat only one household per table, in accordance with existing capacity limits and the new restriction on multi-household gatherings.
Closure of bars and social clubs
Bars and social clubs will be closed for in-person service until further notice. Curbside and delivery service is allowed.
Pausing recreational sports
Youth and adult recreational sports activities, not related to Vermont Principals Association sanctioned school sports, are suspended until further notice.
All businesses, nonprofits, and government entities shall reinstitute telework policies for all employees to the maximum extent possible. In-person meetings are strongly discouraged and should be held by telephone or videoconference whenever possible.
Contact tracing and testing requirements
All restaurants and other businesses hosting nonessential activities shall maintain a 30-day log of employee and guest names and contact information in case contact tracing is required by the Health Department. These individuals are consenting to be contacted by the Health Department Contact Tracing Team. Further, all Vermonters are directed to comply with requests made by the Contact Tracing Team. Finally, college students returning home in Vermont, from in-state and out-of-state schools, shall quarantine for 14 days or seven days with a negative Covid-19 test and testing is strongly encouraged.
“We rely on data to guide each and every decision we make, and that data has shown us a clear picture of a rising tide that could have serious consequences,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, M.D. “Whether it’s friends or our own family members, we need to limit any social activities to our own households to protect all these people that we don’t even know we’ve put at risk – where we work, where we learn, where people live in situations that make them more vulnerable. And we need to make these sacrifices now.”
These steps add to actions taken over the last several days, including requiring quarantine for all non-essential out-of-state travel by Vermonters and for all travelers entering Vermont from another state; expanding testing opportunities for Vermonters; and increasing outreach to assess and encourage compliance with travel and gathering guidance. Governor Scott has also directed the state’s emergency response team to prepare to execute existing surge plans, including re-deploying field hospital sites as a precautionary measure.
Under Addendum 8 to the Amended and Restated Executive Order 01-20, Gov. Scott has also extended the State of Emergency to Dec. 15.