coronanvirus

Vt. Gov. Relaxes Stay-at-Home Advisory, Extends State of Emergency

Gov. Phil Scott will reopen hair salons, restaurants and allow gatherings of up to 25 people sometime between now and June 1, he said Friday

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Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is extending the state's emergency declaration until June 15 and relaxing the stay-at-home advisory.

"We’re now two months into the state of emergency but I’ve got to admit, it seems like a year ago. It’s incredible to think back to all that’s happened since early March," Scott said. "We’ve all been through a lot."

Campgrounds, marinas and lodging facilities will be able to open at 25% capacity on Friday, May 22 under strict regulations, Scott said.

Close-contact businesses like hair salons, indoor professional services, outdoor dining and gatherings of up to 25 people will resume in Vermont between now and June 1, according to Scott, if the data continues to move in the right direction.

"As I’ve said before, this is literally in our hands. The smarter we are and the more disciplined we are, the more steps we will be able to take," Scott said. "While our trends remain promising, we know we’re not out of the woods yet."

Vermont has the lowest 3-day and 7-day viral growth rates in the country at under 1%, Scott said, and the second-slowest doubling rate. The number of coronavirus cases in Vermont is expected to double in over 40 weeks. There is only one COVID patient in the state currently in need of an ICU bed.

Officials have said they will keep a close eye on four metrics throughout the summer; syndromic surveillance, viral growth rate, percentage of new positive tests and hospital and critical care bed capacity.

"These are data points we look at every day," Scott said. "They're indicators that tell us we're OK to move forward or that we need to take a pause."

Scott is encouraging residents to "be smart and stay safe," by continuing to wear masks in public and remain "vigilant," about social distancing and personal hygiene.

He urged residents to continue to stay close to home and limit contact with other people, emphasizing the significance of those precautions for anyone over the age of 65 and with chronic health conditions.

"If you fit in these categories, you should continue to stay home as much as possible," Scott said. "I know it's hard but it's really important."

Municipalities are able to implement more stringent restrictions through affirmative action if they should choose to do so, Scott said.

A debate is growing in Vermont on whether customers should be required to wear face coverings when stores reopen next week.

Vermont is now offering free testing for the COVID-19 virus to anyone who asks, even people without symptoms, the state Health Department announced Thursday.

No referral is needed, but people should make appointments, state officials said in a news release late Tuesday.

Officials plan pop-up testing clinics as part of a broader effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Vermont has one of the lowest rates of growth in people infected with the virus, and few people are showing symptoms, so they are not requesting tests, state officials said.

As of Tuesday, fewer than 930 people in Vermont had tested positive for the virus, and 53 people had died. The number of new cases reported daily is usually in the low single digits, and on two days in the past two weeks, no new positive tests were reported.

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