Governor Orders 14-Day Quarantine For Out-Of-State Travelers
Gov. Phil Scott on Monday ordered people coming into Vermont to self-quarantine for 14 days and discouraged people living or staying in COVID-19 “hotspots” from coming at all, saying visitors have an obligation to “protect those already here.”
The new executive order applies to residents and non-residents, though specifically targets people arriving from “hotspots” like New York City and Florida, where many Vermont residents spend their winters. It does not apply to people who come to Vermont to perform essential work or to grocery shop.
Scott also suspended online booking for lodging on Monday, and clarified a prior order closing hotels and short-term rentals like Air B&B and camping facilities. Lodging facilities can only offer rooms for essential work, including caring for the homeless and sheltering essential workers.
“If you don’t need to come to Vermont, please don’t,” Scott said during a press conference in Montpelier. “This is about public health and safety, which is our top priority. Having said that, we can’t let this become an ‘us versus them’ view of the world. That’s not who we are as Americans and certainly not as Vermonters."
The governor also acknowledged what has long seemed like a fait accompli: That his “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order keeping most Vermonters at home will be extended long past its current April 15 expiration date. Last week, Scott ordered all schools and daycare centers closed until June.
The governor said he expected coronavirus to peak in Vermont “sometime in April,” but will release more details about the state’s modeling later this week.
The Vermont State Police and local law enforcement began monitoring lodging providers for compliance with Scott’s restrictions over the weekend. Public Safety Commissioner Mike Schirling said law enforcement visited 318 lodging properties. They found 44 were non-compliant. Police and the Attorney General’s Office will follow up with those places, and officials said they hope education and outreach will be adequate tactics for getting them to comply.
However, officials said non-compliant lodging facilities could face fines as high as $10,000 per violation, and jail sentences of up to six months if needed.
“The best way to enforce the law is to give people the opportunity to comply with it,” Attorney General T.J. Donovan said. “The last thing any of us want to do is enforce these orders and seek those penalties, [but] we’re prepared to do our job.”
Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the state is now tracking a COVID-19 outbreak at a second facility. Seven of Vermont’s 12 COVID-19 deaths have come from the Burlington Health & Rehab nursing home facility. And Levine announced Monday that two deaths have come from Pinecrest at Essex, a senior living facility in Essex Junction. The complex caters to residents over 50 years old, but is not a healthcare facility, Levine said. One death was a resident, another was a “significant other” of a staff member, Levine said.
Overall Vermont has 256 cases of COVID-19, after registering 21 new cases on Sunday, Levine said. The state reported no new deaths on Monday. There are now 19 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Vermont, Secretary for Human Services Mike Smith said.
Officials said the state is making progress on stockpiling protective gear. Schirling said six trucks sent by the federal government with personal protective equipment arrived in Vermont over the weekend. The state warehouse for such equipment is full, and the Vermont National Guard is helping to set up other storage facilities, Schirling said.
Schirling said the state has “millions,” of pending orders for equipment, both with the federal government and through other avenues.
Scott acknowledged the state was also trying to line up refrigerated trucks in case Vermont experiences a surge of COVID-19 deaths.
Scott said he was in regular touch with Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.