(STL.News) – Governor Phil Scott today extended Vermont’s State of Emergency through May 15, which also extends the expiration date of all corresponding orders and directives issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The original State of Emergency, issued on March 13, was set to expire on April 15, as were the subsequent mitigation measures. As a result of this extension, all measures, including the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order, are now in effect until midnight on May 15 (note, schools remain dismissed for in-person instruction through the end of the school year).
“These are incredibly difficult times, and I know this extension is disappointing news for many. But the fact is, Vermonters are literally saving hundreds of lives by staying home,” said Governor Scott. “We are making big sacrifices to save lives, but we cannot let our foot off the gas just yet. We will continue to watch the trends, and as soon as the data shows a downward trend, we can open the spigot, a quarter turn at a time, to get folks back to work in a way that’s responsible and safe. Please know, I will work every hour of every day, for as long as it takes, to see Vermont through this and to help rebuild stronger than we were before.”
The Scott administration developed and continues to update state-specific modeling to project COVID-19 case growth and track capacity of the healthcare system and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and life-saving equipment like ventilators. This data, along with guidance from public health experts at the Vermont Department of Health, has informed the mitigation measures put in place throughout this crisis.
Modeling shows that the mitigation measures have slowed the expected spread of this contagious disease but that the state has not yet hit its peak number of cases. Accordingly, Governor Scott, in consultation with Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, has extended the State of Emergency and all associated social distancing measures.
In addition to extending the State of Emergency, this order addresses several technical changes and clarifications:
With support from House and Senate Transportation Committees, directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to extend motor vehicle inspections due in April for up to 60 days.
Effective immediately, authorizes lodging operators to accept reservations for stays and events occurring on June 15 or later.
Clarifies that state agencies may provide non-congregate housing for isolation purposes due to COVID-19 exposure or infection to first responders, including Department of Corrections personnel, health care workers and others working to support the COVID-19 response.
Directs the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to update guidance for real estate sales to ensure it applies to “for sale by owner” properties.
Directs ACCD to clarify that essential services provided by financial, legal and professional services, as well as by municipalities, are allowed when helping Vermonters navigate and access the state and federal financial supports available in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Clarifies that protections for health care facilities, providers and volunteers afforded under 20 V.S.A. § 20 apply for the purposes of COVID-19 related emergency management services or activities.
Since declaring a State of Emergency in mid-March, the Governor has directed a number of strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19, including visitor restrictions for long-term care and other health facilities; the closure of bars and restaurants, schools and day care centers and close contact businesses; limiting the size of mass gatherings; postponing all non-essential medical procedures; issuing a Stay Home, Stay Safe order; closing in-person operations for most businesses; implementing travel restrictions and a 14-day quarantine for those entering Vermont from other states; and more.