Friday brought mixed news for residents of Vermont, with certain close-contact services allowed to resume but fairs and festivals canceled for the summer.
Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said crowd sizes at those events are simply too large and noted there is considerable coronavirus activity in certain portions of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York. Additionally, fairs see people from all over the country coming into Vermont, so the governor said the big rides and other fun will have to wait until summer 2021.
However, the order will not prevent fairgrounds from hosting other events in accordance with state guidelines.
Several other sectors of the Vermont economy or aspects of daily life will also reopen, Gov. Scott announced.
Hairstylists and barbers across Vermont will be allowed to operate again starting in one week — with limitations.
At O’M, a hair salon in downtown Burlington, owner Don O’Connell welcomed word that he can reopen May 29.
“It’s very exciting to actually have a date, have something to look forward to,” O’Connell told NECN & NBC10 Boston.
Under state rules for salons and barbershops, it will be appointments only at first — no walk-ins. Customers will be spread out and businesses have to keep logs of who comes and goes, in case the state needs to trace a disease outbreak.
O’Connell said he will ask his clients to wait outside until he wraps up his previous cut and has a chance to sanitize his workspace.
“Yes this my job, this is what I do for money, this is how I pay the bills,” O’Connell said. “But at the same time, your well-being is far beyond any paycheck or payment I’m going to get from you for any service I provide.”
Vermont has a very low rate of coronavirus infections, according to new state modeling presented Friday.
However, there are virus hotspots just short drives away in places like Massachusetts and New Hampshire, so Scott said he believes it is best to take a cautious approach to restarting the economy, including when it comes to welcoming visitors to the state again.
No dates could be provided for when the hospitality sector could reopen to out-of-state visitors without the current two-week quarantine requirements, Scott said, explaining the regional coronavirus numbers do not currently allow it.
“I know there are other close-contact business owners like gyms and spas who are waiting for updates as well,” Scott added. “But we’re not quite there yet, because the epidemiological team wants to track the data just a little bit longer.”
More non-emergency inpatient and outpatient medical procedures can also resume, said Dr. Mark Levine, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health.
Health care offices will need to take steps to reduce risks, Levine noted.
Dentists will also see expansions under new state guidance. First, they will see a soft opening for non-urgent care, when they are directed to use techniques that reduce spray from patients’ mouths from entering the air.
“We can be trusted that we will continue to do safe things for dental patients in Vermont,” Dr. Thomas Opsahl of the Vermont State Dental Society said in an interview Friday with NECN & NBC10 Boston.
Houses of worship in Vermont can also reopen for in-person religious services this weekend, at 25% capacity, Gov. Scott announced.
Some religious leaders, though, have said they are waiting just a little bit longer, so you’ll want to check on your services before you head out.