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Scott: Limits On Public Gatherings Expected To Loosen In June

Gov. Phil Scott stands at a podium next to a screen reading "COVID-19 Vermont's Response"
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ORCA Media
At a press briefing Wednesday, Gov. Phil Scott said a loosening of social distancing orders in recent weeks has not led to a spike in COVID-19 in Vermont.

Gov. Phil Scott says a sustained decline in the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont will likely allow him to loosen restrictions on public gatherings by the end of the week.

Vermont has gone nearly two weeks without a new death from COVID-19, and the growth rate of the disease in Vermont is the second-slowest in the nation, behind Hawaii.

Scott said during a press briefing Wednesday that he plans to increase the limit on public gatherings from no more than 10 people to no more than 25 starting June 1. And he added he’s considering the reopening of more close-contact businesses, including indoor restaurant dining.

“Based on what we’ve been seeing to date, it appears we continue to move in the right direction, which is good news,” Scott said Wednesday. “And as a result, we’ll be able to put more Vermonters back to work, open up social activities, and restart most parts of our economy in some capacity.”

Out-of-state restrictions remain

The governor warned Wednesday that restrictions on out-of-state travel will remain in effect until coronavirus trends in neighboring states improve.

In New Hampshire, 43 people have died of COVID-19 since Sunday; the death toll in Massachusetts climbed by 675 over the same time period.

“While it’s tempting to declare victory based on the numbers here in Vermont, as I’ve said many times, we’re not an island,” Scott said.

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He said he understands that his 14-day quarantine order for all visitors entering Vermont has put a damper on the summer tourism season. But he said he’s asked a team of advisors to develop a series of metrics that will determine when the state can reopen its doors to vacationing out-of-staters.

“Because if we do this right, and view this as a marathon, not a sprint, we’ll win this race in the end,” Scott said.

More economic guidance coming

Scott didn’t announce any economic reopenings Wednesday, but he said he’ll likely expand the list of businesses that are allowed to resume business on Friday.

He added his administration would be releasing final guidance for overnight summer camps by the end of the week. He also said he hopes to be able to provide a reopening timeline soon for close-contact businesses like fitness centers, cleaning services and restaurants.

“If we continue to see good results, I expect we could be able to resume indoor dining in the not-to-distant future,” Scott said.

The govenror said he hopes the incremental opening of the Vermont economy will hasten as the summer progresses.

“Once we get everything around 25% (capacity), then you’ll see us moving 25% to 50% across the board, so that’s the vision,” Scott said. “Hopefully throughout the summer, we’ll be able to increase the capacity.”

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