Extends State of Emergency and All Existing Mitigation Orders and Closures until May 15
Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today extended Vermont’s State of Emergency through May 15, which also extends the expiration date of all corresponding orders and directives issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The original State of Emergency, issued on March 13, was set to expire on April 15, as were the subsequent mitigation measures. As a result of this extension, all measures, including the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order, are now in effect until midnight on May 15 (note, schools remain dismissed for in-person instruction through the end of the school year).
“These are incredibly difficult times, and I know this extension is disappointing news for many. But the fact is, Vermonters are literally saving hundreds of lives by staying home,” said Governor Scott. “We are making big sacrifices to save lives, but we cannot let our foot off the gas just yet. We will continue to watch the trends, and as soon as the data shows a downward trend, we can open the spigot, a quarter turn at a time, to get folks back to work in a way that’s responsible and safe. Please know, I will work every hour of every day, for as long as it takes, to see Vermont through this and to help rebuild stronger than we were before.”
The Scott administration developed and continues to update state-specific modeling to project COVID-19 case growth and track capacity of the healthcare system and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and life-saving equipment like ventilators. This data, along with guidance from public health experts at the Vermont Department of Health, has informed the mitigation measures put in place throughout this crisis.
Modeling shows that the mitigation measures have slowed the expected spread of this contagious disease but that the state has not yet hit its peak number of cases. Accordingly, Governor Scott, in consultation with Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, has extended the State of Emergency and all associated social distancing measures.
In addition to extending the State of Emergency, this order addresses several technical changes and clarifications:
- With support from House and Senate Transportation Committees, directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to extend motor vehicle inspections due in April for up to 60 days.
- Effective immediately, authorizes lodging operators to accept reservations for stays and events occurring on June 15 or later.
- Clarifies that state agencies may provide non-congregate housing for isolation purposes due to COVID-19 exposure or infection to first responders, including Department of Corrections personnel, health care workers and others working to support the COVID-19 response.
- Directs the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to update guidance for real estate sales to ensure it applies to “for sale by owner” properties.
- Directs ACCD to clarify that essential services provided by financial, legal and professional services, as well as by municipalities, are allowed when helping Vermonters navigate and access the state and federal financial supports available in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
- Clarifies that protections for health care facilities, providers and volunteers afforded under 20 V.S.A. § 20 apply for the purposes of COVID-19 related emergency management services or activities.
Since declaring a State of Emergency in mid-March, the Governor has directed a number of strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19, including visitor restrictions for long-term care and other health facilities; the closure of bars and restaurants, schools and day care centers and close contact businesses; limiting the size of mass gatherings; postponing all non-essential medical procedures; issuing a Stay Home, Stay Safe order; closing in-person operations for most businesses; implementing travel restrictions and a 14-day quarantine for those entering Vermont from other states; and more.
- Directive 1 issued March 15, 2020, to all School Boards and Superintendents for Continuity of Education Planning which closed all schools to in-person education and required planning for education continuity;
- Addendum 1 to the Executive Order issued March 16, 2020, which modified the Executive Order to prohibit all non-essential mass gatherings to the lesser of fifty (50) people or fifty
- percent (50%) of the occupancy of a facility at the same time for social, recreational or entertainment activities;
- Addendum 2 to the Executive Order issued March 17, 2020 ordering restaurants, bars, or establishments that offer food or drink to suspend on-premises consumption of food or drink;
- Directive 2 issued March 17, 2020 to all School Boards, Superintendents, and Child Care Programs to close childcare centers and provide for services to children of Essential Persons during the closure period in response to COVID-19;
- Directive 3 issued March 18, 2020 directing Department of Motor Vehicle services to provide online, by mail or phone, and suspend all in-person transactions;
- Directive 4 issued March 19, 2020 to the Department of Liquor and Lottery authorizing take-out, curbside pickup and delivery of beverage alcohol, including spirit-based drinks and malt and vinous product accompanying food orders for off premise consumption;
- Addendum 3 to the Executive Order issued March 20, 2020, requiring the postponement of all non-essential adult elective surgery and medical and surgical procedures;
- Addendum 4 to the Executive Order issued March 21, 2020, which suspended the operation of close-contact businesses and further restricted the size of mass gatherings;
- Addendum 5 to the Executive Order issued March 23, 2020, which ordered all businesses and non-profits to institute work from home procedures to the extent possible;
- Addendum 6 to the Executive Order issued March 24, 2020, which ordered all Vermonters to stay home, stay safe with the exception of those performing critical services (“Stay Home/Stay Safe”);
- Directive 5 issued March 25, 2020 clarifying schools for preK-12 students shall remain dismissed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and required schools to have continuity of learning plans for remote learning implemented on or before Monday, April 13, 2020;
- Addendum 7 to the Executive Order issued March 30, 2020, which imposed quarantine restrictions on travelers arriving in Vermont and clarified the closure of lodging operations;
- Addendum 8 to the Executive Order issued April 3, 2020, which clarified the Governor’s direction to provide non-congregate sheltering in Vermont and extended certain deadlines relating to closures of DMV and bars and restaurants; and
WHEREAS, as of April 5, 2020, the United States had experienced 337,646 cases of COVID-19 with 9,648 COVID-19-related deaths; Quebec had experienced 7,944 cases of COVID-19 with 94 COVID-19-related deaths; New York had experienced 122,911 cases of COVID-19 with 4,161 COVID-19-related deaths; Massachusetts had experienced over 12,500 cases of COVID-19 with 231 COVID-19-related deaths; New Hampshire had experienced 621 cases of COVID-19 with 9 COVID-19-related deaths; and Vermont had experienced 512 cases of COVID-19 with 22 COVID-19-related deaths; and
WHEREAS, modeling studies done for the State clearly show that, but for the mitigation measures taken to date, the number of COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 related deaths in the State and the region would be having a much more devastating effect on Vermonters and would be threatening to overwhelm the capacity of the Vermont health care system; and
WHEREAS, the Governor has determined, in consultation with the Commissioner of VDH and DPS/VEM, based on the best science and data available, to extend the State of Emergency for the State of Vermont through Friday, May 15, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Governor has further determined to issue a rule which clarifies the scope of the providers and situations protected by 20 V.S.A. § 20 in order to remove barriers to health care facility surge capacity planning; and
WHEREAS, the Governor has determined to authorize lodging facilities to resume acceptance of reservations for stays and events beginning June 15, 2020, subject to further action as needed to respond to continued COVID-19 response, as well as issue other directions and clarifications.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Philip B. Scott, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor of Vermont by the Constitution of the State of Vermont, the emergency powers set forth in 20 V.S.A. §§ 8, 9 and 11 and other laws hereby declare the State of Emergency for the State of Vermont shall be extended through midnight on Friday, May 15, 2020.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED:
1. The Executive Order and all Directives and Addenda issued thereunder shall continue in full force and effect until midnight on May 15, 2020, at which time the Governor, in consultation with the Vermont Department of Health and the Department of Public Safety/Division of Emergency Management shall assess the emergency and determine whether to amend or extend the State of Emergency.
2. Lodging Reservations. Addendum 7 to the Executive Order is hereby supplemented to authorize lodging operators to immediately accept reservations for stays and events occurring on or after June 15, 2020; provided, however, the Governor, in consultation with the Commissioner of VDH and the Commissioner of DPS/VEM, shall assess the emergency and determine whether to amend or extend this date.
3. Stay Home/Stay Safe Guidance. For the purpose of clarifying Stay Home/Stay Safe, the Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (“ACCD”) is directed to provide guidance as follows: A. As it relates to the suspension of real estate activities, clarify existing guidance regarding real estate sales and brokerage to ensure guidance applies to all real estate sales, including those for sale by owner.
On-line real estate sites shall post a prominent notice on their web platforms which advises potential sellers and purchasers that all in-person real estate transactions are temporarily suspended.
Real estate functions that can be conducted online, by phone or email may continue.
B. As it relates to Financial, Legal and Professional Services and Municipalities, clarify existing guidelines to the extent necessary to facilitate assistance to Vermonters seeking to take advantage of state and federal financial support made available in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
4. Motor Vehicle Inspections. In order to alleviate in-person contact at locations offering vehicle inspections, the Department of Motor Vehicles is hereby directed to extend inspections for motor vehicles other than school buses and motor buses, for 60 days for inspections due in April 2020 (a green “4”).
5. Directive to State Agencies Regarding Non-Congregate Temporary Housing. Effective as of March 1, 2020, State Agencies which determine the need for non-congregate temporary housing to quarantine and temporarily isolate first responders, including Department of Corrections personnel, health care workers and others critical to the COVID-19 response, such as critical infrastructure construction and maintenance, who are at reasonable risk of having been exposed to or are infected with COVID-19, or are recovering from COVID-19, and cannot return to their usual residence because of the risk of infecting other household members, shall provide alternative non-congregate housing to this population of first responders, health care workers and others critical to the COVID-19 response.
6. COVID-19 Emergency Response Services. In accordance with the authority granted to the Governor pursuant to 20 V.S.A. §§ 8 and 9 to make, amend, and rescind necessary orders, rules, and regulations for emergency management purposes, I hereby adopt the following rule for the purpose of interpreting the scope of 20 V.S.A. § 20 relating to legal immunity for Health Care Facilities, Health Care Providers, and Health Care Volunteers, as defined herein, who are providing COVID-19 related emergency management services or response activities. The intent of this rule is to clarify that under protections afforded by 20 V.S.A. § 20, Health Care Facilities, Health Care Providers, and Health Care Volunteers would be immune from civil liability for any death, injury, or loss resulting from COVID-19 related emergency management services or response activities, except in the case of willful misconduct or gross negligence.
Responding to the amendment, Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop said, “After listening to impacted businesses throughout the state, the Vermont Chamber urged the governor to change his guidance and allow lodging properties to make future reservations while still adhering to his Stay Home, Stay Safe order. No other state has imposed this level of restriction on the lodging industry, so we are pleased that the Governor revised his order. This action will help lodging businesses, many located in rural communities throughout the state, recover once the order is lifted.”
She said the Vermont Chamber will continue to work with state leaders to elevate business community concerns and swiftly address issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Scott emphasized during his remarks today at a press conference that if there was a turn for the worse that he could reverse or extend any of these measures as necessary to reduce infections and keep people safe.
Source: Montpelier, Vt. – Governor 4.10.2020