by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine – Governor Phil Scott said on Monday that he will announce this week that some social aspects of his “Stay Home” order will be relaxed. The scientific data shows that the spread of COVID-19 has at least plateaued, as the number of cases slows even with more testing. Hospitalizations associated with the novel coronavirus also continue to fall.
Scott said he was still attempting to work out with his staff what those new rules will look like while maintaining the ultimate goal of keeping Vermonters safe and healthy. He also indicated that the “Stay Home” emergency order will be extended.
The “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order (effective March 23) initially was to expire on April 15, but on April 10 the governor extended it until May 15. As early as tomorrow but not later than Friday, he said Vermonters should expect that he will extend it further.
While he did not say for how long, he said that he intended to continue to reopen up the state in a deliberate fashion even as the emergency order is extended.
An announcement on high school graduation also is expected this week. This has been one of the longest delayed decisions. Scott probably has been waiting to see the success of mitigating the effects of COVID-19. In that regard the state has done well, giving some hope to graduates and families that there will be some semblance of a real graduation.
At best this is likely to be an outdoor ceremony with graduates spaced out with only parents and siblings in attendance. It could only be the graduates at the ceremony. Or the governor could mandate that all graduations must be virtual. Families should be prepared to hear, whenever the announcement comes, that grandparents will not be allowed to attend any in-person ceremony.
However, as Scott loosens the social gathering rules, graduation parties might be allowed and be larger than 10 guests by the time graduation rolls around in June.
As for the social reopening, Scott said it will probably follow the incremental approach the state took in closing it down. The first limit on gathering sizes was only down to 250 and eventually to 10. As businesses reopen they are following a similar strategy by taking small steps with larger numbers of people allowed.
For instance, when the “Stay Home” order was enacted and all construction work was shut down, as the economy has reopened, first up to two workers were allowed, then 10 and on May 11 construction and will be fully allowed as long as safety measures are followed. Those measures include wearing masks and hygiene.
If he continues to follow this pattern, larger and larger social groups will be allowed over the coming weeks and months.
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