Vermont Takes Another Step Toward Reopening Its Economy

Gov. Phil Scott is taking another "small step forward" to reopen Vermont's economy amid the coronavirus crisis

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The governor of Vermont Friday said he will continue taking slow and careful steps to reopen the state’s economy, but has signaled if COVID-19 infections pick up, progress could be dialed back again.

“No one wants to get Vermont back to work more than me,” said Gov. Phil Scott. “But as we do, we must outsmart and beat this virus.”

Farmers markets can start up May 1 for mask-wearing customers, but the events must focus on food sales, not social time, Scott said.

Starting Monday, April 27, the governor will allow five-person work crews, provided their jobs are outside. Teams of five are also okay for manufacturing and construction in unoccupied spaces—but those workers do have to keep their distance, the governor insisted.

Certain retailers like garden centers, which had been curbside pickup only, can resume in-person sales Monday, too—outdoors—with no more than 10 shoppers and staff total at a time.

“Each of us has to be smart and has to be vigilant,” Scott said, noting that safety protocols such as hand-washing and reducing contact with others still must be followed.

“I’m really encouraged by what we heard today,” said Chris Conant of Claussen’s Florist and Greenhouse in Colchester.

Conant said his business hopes to now bring back some of its 30 furloughed employees.

Conant said Claussen’s is mindful of new rules announced Friday around training staff on sanitation and requiring face coverings. Gov. Scott explained both are aimed at preventing more outbreaks.

“If we do go backwards, it’s going to take down a lot of businesses in the process,” Conant observed, referencing the need to reduce the chances of further Covid-19 outbreaks.

“No one wants to get Vermonters back to work more than me but as we do, we must outsmart and beat this virus,” Scott said Friday. “I know, together, we can build on our progress and stay untied in this work.”

In Winooski, Jaime Jacobs had just opened her new dog grooming business, The Dapper Dog, when much of Vermont shut down to slow the spread of Covid-19.

“Being a new shop, it’s been a little scary,” Jacobs said.

This week, Jacobs took one small step toward normal operations, after a previous announcement from the governor allowed the return of certain “low-contact” workers.

Under that announcement, customers of The Dapper Dog are still staying outside, but the state did allow Jacobs to bring a helper into the shop, while they follow safety guidelines.

“We are keeping our distance—staying the 6 feet apart, definitely,” the groomer said.

Gov. Scott promised to closely watch health data to guide future decisions on whether the time’s right to allow more businesses to ramp up operations.

More guidelines are available here to inform businesses about the phased-in reopening of Vermont’s economy.

Coronavirus travel restrictions have left some Americans stuck overseas, as well as foreigners stuck in the United States -- including workers at Vermont ski resorts.
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