One of Vermont’s marquee destinations, popular with travelers and locals alike, reopened Thursday, with new restrictions and changes forced by the pandemic.
“This is really for the community,” said Tom Denenberg, the executive director of Shelburne Museum.
Only a few buildings on the sprawling campus are open, masks are a must and cleaning is constant, Denenberg said, noting there are also limits on the number of guests allowed.
“We can only have about 100 people on the grounds at a time, and this time of year, we might have seven or eight times that number,” Denenberg said.
Tickets are required and are booked through August — though they’re free — but you could get lucky with a walk-in.
“The world has changed,” observed Heather Pelham, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of the opportunities we do have.”
Pelham pointed out the state has placed new expectations on many visitors, depending on where they’re traveling from, aiming to keep coronavirus infections low.
“We can’t offer the same open invitation that we may have in the past,” Pelham acknowledged, referring to health and safety steps travelers coming from areas with high transmission rates of coronavirus have to take before their Vermont getaway.
“But Vermont is one of the safest places to travel right now and we really do want to continue to encourage folks to think about traveling safely,” she continued
Pelham points to a list of attractions, including state historic sites, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. All are open, though you should expect changes put in place to guard against the virus.
Jennifer Brown, a travel advisor from Maryland, was at Shelburne Museum Thursday scouting locations to recommend.
“It’s so close — it’s really a regional destination,” she said of the proximity of Vermont to many American cities.
Brown said she gets a lot of questions about where it’s safe to travel, and whether booking trips these days is a hassle. She told NECN and NBC10 Boston she found northern New England impressive.
“We’ve been eating at all outdoor restaurants — it’s been really great,” Brown said.
She said the availability of hand-sanitizer and seeing others wearing masks have made her feel good about stops she and her family have made in Maine and Vermont.
Vermont is expecting a big drop in revenues, especially in the hard-hit lodging sector, state leaders have said. However, steps like the Shelburne Museum reopening are welcome signs for the travel industry.
“It’s really nice here,” Brown’s teenage daughter, Jahsey, said of Vermont.