Here’s some good news for a Friday:
Governor Phil Scott announced that across the state, retail would start to reopen for curbside pickup as of April 20 and lodgings would be reopen for reservations starting June 15. On March 23, the Governor’s Executive Order had blocked all lodgings — including short term rentals — from taking any new reservations beginning March 25 and urging visitors to stay home.
“We were among the first resorts to close, voluntarily, in early March and have been looking forward to this,” said Courtney Lowe, Marketing Director of the Woodstock Inn and Resort, which owns Suicide Six Recreation Area. The resort, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary of when Laurance Rockefeller purchased it, is a classic in Woodstock, Vt. “The hardest part was making sure our staff of 170 to 400 was healthy, safe and taken care of,” Lowe said.
On Friday, April 17, Scott also announced Vermont would have a “Phase 1” reopening as of Monday, April 20 as follows:
Phase 1: Effective April 20, 2020
1.1 Outdoor Businesses & Construction Operations
- Those who exclusively or largely work outdoors (such as civil engineering, site work, exterior construction, skilled trades, public works, energy and utility work, mining, forestry, environmental monitoring, landscaping, painting, tree work, parks maintenance, delivery work, etc.) may resume operations with a maximum of 2 total workers per location/job.
- Interior construction may occur in unoccupied structures, adhering to social distancing standards, with no more than 2 workers maintaining social distance between them whenever possible.
- Supporting services that were not previously deemed essential may resume operations with the minimum number of employees necessary to support curbside pick-up and delivery services; adherence to the mandatory health and safety requirements and compliance with 1.2 below required.
1.2 Retail Operations (clarifying existing guidance)
- Retailers, including those that operate in an outdoor setting, may conduct limited operations such as curbside pick-up, delivery services, and warehouse or distribution operations in support of curbside, or delivery.
- All orders must occur over the phone or online; no in-store transactions are allowed at this time.
- Only the minimum number of employees necessary to support curbside pick-up and delivery services are allowed at any one store, site, or location.
1.3 Low or no contact professional services
- Services operating with a single worker (such as appraisers, realtors, municipal clerks, attorneys, property managers, pet care operators, and others) may operate if they can comply with the mandatory health and safety requirements listed above, with no more than 2 persons (service provider and client) present at one time.
A week ago, Gov. Scott had 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.
That also means that these trail systems would be closed until then.
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.
Opening photo: The Woodstock Inn, in Woodstock, Vermont. Courtesy photo.