Bellows Falls updating village parade permit requirements

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – As the result of a recent parade in the village of Bellows Falls in which the participants were not wearing masks, there are plans to review and update the current village parade permit requirements to include that all participants wear protective masks and practice safe social distancing.

Back in mid-September, interim manager Chuck Wise granted a parade permit to the Westminster Fire Department so that some 200 firefighters could participate in a walk to honor and remember the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the New York City terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The firefighters who participated in the Sept. 12 parade, which included a 3.5-mile walk throughout the village to honor the fallen firefighters, were wearing air packs, but they were not wearing protective masks or practicing safe social distancing.

In no fault of the Westminster Fire Department or the participants in the parade, the permit that was granted for the event did not specify the wearing of masks or the requirement of six-foot social distancing.

In a post-parade interview, Wise acknowledged the oversight and he further stated that internal discussions had taken place about modifying the parade permit to require masks and social distancing, in order to reflect Gov. Phil Scott’s statewide executive order requiring both.

“All of the permits that are being requested, most recently one granted for a mini-parade for the returning Bellows Falls Union High School state champion field hockey and cross-country teams, now have a requirement to follow current state Covid protocols,” Town Manager Scott Pickup said. “It seems that the guidance [requirements] change from state to federal agencies, therefore, we are trying to be adaptable. Additionally, this type of action is basically administrative, so it does not require any ‘official action’ to take place at a town meeting.”

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