Governor Phil Scott outlined Tuesday what he is calling the Vermont Forward Plan: a roadmap to opening the state by July 4th.
The plan includes health guidance changes and is based on vaccination forecasts and modeling for the progression of the COVID-19 virus.
Governor Scott says the goal is to give Vermonters a transparent look at how the state can work its way out of the pandemic to a time when the virus can be can managed much like the flu.
“It’s meant to let non-profits, community organizers, employers and families plan for events and how these might look," Scott said. "To help businesses prepare for future operations and budgets and to give Vermonters something to work toward. As I’ve said we’re in the last laps of this very long and difficult race and this plan shows how we’ll finish strong. But I want to be really clear the key to getting there are vaccinations which is why we’re laser-focused on making sure as many Vermonters as possible get them.”
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said they hope the plan for universal guidance creates predictability for businesses, municipalities and others eager to plan for a full reopening.
“This guidance will be rolled out in two groups of sectors," Kurrle said. "Group A will be effective on April 9th and it includes low contact short duration outdoor and controlled environments. Group B will move to universal guidance on May 1st and that includes the longer duration or close contact environments. Some businesses may want to put measures in place that go further than the universal guidance or address specific safety needs that are unique to their establishment. This is their right to do so.”
The Vermont Forward Plan depends on vaccination rates. In Step One no quarantine is required following cross state travel with a negative test within three days of returning to the state. By Step Three travelers face no quarantine or testing requirements. By July 4th no capacity restrictions are anticipated for gatherings and events. Secretary Kurrle believes the benchmarks in the plan have been set based on conservative expectations.
“We have set benchmarks that we feel we have such a great chance to meet," Kurrle said. "We’re confident that we can get there unless something completely unforeseen shows up. So we want Vermonters to feel good about this plan and to rely on this plan. You know you can start planning and you can be thinking about those events in the summer and towns can be accepting event applications based on this plan. So again we’ll continue to monitor everything but from a planning perspective we’re giving a plan that we feel that we have the ability to meet for all Vermonters.”
Masking and physical distancing will be required until July 4th, when it shifts to being encouraged by the state.