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Vermont Governor Announces Easing Of Mask Requirements

Vermont Governor Phil Scott
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Vermont Governor Phil Scott (file photo)

Like Massachusetts on Friday, Governor Phil Scott says Vermont’s outdoor mask-wearing requirement will end Saturday.

Republican Governor Phil Scott said Friday in line with the new CDC guidelines effective May 1st, Vermonters will not be required to wear masks when outside if physical distancing is maintained. 

“This includes both those who are vaccinated or not vaccinated as yet," Scott said. "The science and data show that outdoor transmission is rare and imposes little risk if you follow our guidance. I do want to mention that municipalities and businesses do have the ability to have stricter policies if they so choose.”

Governor Scott noted that the state met its May 1st vaccination targets earlier this week and will move to the Vermont Forward Plan’s next phase Saturday.  Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling says phase two includes two important steps.  

“First the second and final group of  business sectors moves to universal guidance," Schirling said. "And second also beginning tomorrow gathering sizes will be updated. Please remember that while universal guidance transitions us away from specified capacity limits and some of the other nuanced guidance that has been present over the last year the distancing requirement under universal guidance still remains and continues to apply. Again physical distancing and masking remain important safety measures for gatherings both indoors and outside.”

The briefing included updates on plans to move homeless individuals who have been staying in motels contracted for emergency housing and clarifications on new unemployment insurance guidelines. Governor Scott was also asked about the $7.17 billion 2022 state budget plan the Democratically-controlled Senate was poised to pass.  

“I have a lot of concerns with the budget," Scott said. "Mainly around the ARPA funding this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a billion dollars to put towards things, the tangible things that I think are so necessary, that will be transformational in so many ways if we do it right. And I don’t think they’re doing it right.”

During a separate virtual press conference on child care legislation, Vermont Senate Pro Tem Democrat Becca Balint said the governor’s budget proposal omitted important items. 

“And we tried to rectify that situation," Balint said. "We fully anticipate that we’re going to have to have a lot of conversations about how the remaining ARPA dollars should be spent. And we’ve got time.  There is not the same time pressure that we had in the last tranche of funds. Last time we had to turn around in a matter of months. We’ve got three and a half years. We’re going to try to do our due diligence. Slow down. Get it right. And so we’re not feeling that same pressure that he’s trying to put on us. But I anticipate that together we’re going to be able to figure out how best to spend the money.”

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