Vermont Governor Phil Scott relaxed some COVID-19 business restrictions on Friday. He was also quizzed about his campaign plans following his announcement Thursday that he will seek a third term.
Vermont’s pandemic state of emergency is in effect until June 15th with business restrictions in place. Republican Governor Phil Scott and his administration are assessing data to determine how and when to allow different business sectors to open. Friday morning Scott said it has been several weeks since some full or partial openings took effect and the data continues to show positive trends. Scott says that gives him confidence to take additional steps. “We feel it’s safe to turn the spigot a bit more. ACCD (Agency of Commerce and Community Development) will be releasing guidance that allows close contact operations in interior maintenance businesses to open June 1. This will include gyms and indoor fitness centers, massage therapists, nail salons, spas and businesses that require work in the home like routine maintenance and home cleaning. Additionally we’ve increased the safe social gathering size from 10 to 25 people. To be clear this pertains to social gatherings like cookouts or outdoor get-togethers. It does not change the 25 percent capacity limit set for things like retail or lodging. All of those remain in place.”
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine reported what he called a small cluster of new COVID-19 cases in Winooski. But he refused to provide specific details. “Our staff and our epidemiology and contact tracing sections are investigating. To insure that we are protecting individuals’ privacy I cannot offer any more details at this time but I wanted to make sure that you were aware of the potential outbreak in the community and the fact that the Health Department is very much engaged. We have a great idea of where the cluster is. We have made a good assessment of the situation.”
A day earlier, Governor Scott filed paperwork to run for a third two-year term. But he also announced that he would not actively campaign nor fundraise while his administration is responding to the pandemic. His decision prompted a number of questions including why he decided to run again and if he would participate in primary debates. “You know when I first started this journey I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to leave the office in better shape than I found it and at this point in time that’s not possible. It’s going to be a tough couple of years ahead as we work our way out of this pandemic and the financial situation, the economic crisis, that’s coming with it and I think I want to see it through. As far as participating in debates I'm saying right now I want to focus on my job which is being governor. When we get to a point when we can we get everybody back to somewhat normal I’ll participate in debates and so forth.”
Governor Scott said he hopes to make an announcement next week regarding a timeframe to allow indoor dining at restaurants, which he also says is the next sector he wants to open.