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News Roundup: Canada To Ease Some Border Restrictions Beginning July 5

A yellow background with vermont news round up written, with a small green graphic of vermot on the "R" of roundup
Elodie Reed

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the U.S.-Canada border and more for Wednesday, June 23.

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As Vermont's pandemic state of emergency has ended and coronavirus restrictions lifted statewide, we will no longer be reporting daily case numbers at the top of this newsletter. Click here for the latest on new cases, and find the latest vaccination data online any time.

1. Canada to begin easing some border restrictions July 5

Canada is taking a step toward easing border restrictions.

Government officials announced this week that beginning July 5, fully-vaccinated travelers who are permitted to enter Canada will be able to do so without quarantining or taking a COVID-19 test.

Proof of vaccination will be required.

Currently, travelers who are eligible to enter Canada include Canadian citizens and permanent residents. U.S. citizens are only allowed in the country for essential reasons. Leisure travel is not allowed.

The change does not apply to fully vaccinated non-citizens who are looking to visit for non-essential reasons. For travellers who are not fully vaccinated, there are no changes to Canada’s current border measures.

- Brittany Patterson

Delta variant of COVID could become predominant in U.S.

Public health officials say the Delta variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in India, could become the predominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S. over the next few weeks.

But Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine says he doesn’t think the variant will lead to a spike in cases in Vermont.

“But we still need as many Vermonters as possible to protect themselves and those around them who can’t yet get the vaccine,” he said. “All you need to do is get vaccinated. It’s free and easy.”

Levine says the Delta variant is more transmissible than other strains of COVID, and possibly leads to more severe symptoms for people who contract it.

He says studies have shown that the COVID vaccine is effective against the Delta variant.

- Peter Hirschfeld

State officials report eight new COVID cases

State health officials reported eight new COVID-19 infections in Vermont Wednesday.

Three people are hospitalized with the virus in the state, with two in intensive care.

More than 400 eligible Vermonters were vaccinated Tuesday. The state's vaccination rate remains at 81.3%.

- Karen Anderson

2. Gov. calls on legislators to reform Act 250 to make way for affordable housing

Vermont has earmarked $250 million in federal pandemic aid for the construction of affordable housing across the state.

But Gov. Phil Scott says the state’s land use law, called Act 250, will need an overhaul if Vermont wants to convert those dollars into housing units.

“If this is an emergency, as we all perceive it, we need to pave a way for that to happen,” Scott says. “And we’re going to have to take some steps in order to help developers put some of the housing that we need into place.”

Speaking Tuesday at his weekly press conference, Scott called on lawmakers to enact reforms to Act 250 during their next legislative session.

- Peter Hirschfeld

3. UVM study: More than 1/3 Vermonters grew, hunted, foraged or fished some of their own food during the pandemic

Research out of the University of Vermont finds more than a third of Vermonters got some of their food from gardening, foraging, fishing, or hunting during the pandemic.

UVM professor Meredith Niles headed the study. She says researchers were surprised to find that households that lacked access to affordable and nutritious food were more likely to grow or source their own food.

“Some of the previous research suggests that people who engage in these activities like gardening and hunting and fishing and foraging are actually more food secure, and we didn’t find that was true,” Niles said. “Instead, what we found was that food-insecure households were much more likely to be doing these activities for the first time or more intensely than before."

The team of researchers conducted a follow-up survey, which they are still analyzing. They intend to publish their findings in the coming months.

- Reed Nye

4. Pride caravan scheduled for Saturday in southern Vermont

For the second year in a row, a car caravan in celebration of Pride is scheduled to travel through southern and central Vermont.

Queer Connect is organizing the event. The Bennington Banner reports the group wanted to allow Vermonters who are still following COVID safety protocols to feel safe participating.

The caravan is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 26, in Bennington.

The caravan will then head north, passing through North Bennington, Shaftsbury and Arlington to Manchester, where it will join with participants from Rutland.

- Brittany Patterson

5. Former UVMMC ER doctor to plead guilty to voyeurism, child pornography charges

A former emergency room doctor at the state's largest hospital has agreed to plead guilty to charges of voyeurism, lewd and lascivious conduct and possessing child pornography.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Vermont, Eike Blohm faces eight to 11 years in prison. Prosecutors say an employee of UVM Medical Center found a camera in an emergency department bathroom. Blohm was arrested last April for multiple counts of voyeurism. Investigators later obtained a search warrant of Blohm's home and found child pornography on several of his digital devices.

Blohm will also have to pay about $40,000 in restitution. He's scheduled to plead guilty to both federal and state charges in July.

- Henry Epp

Elodie Reed compiled and edited this post.

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