Gov. Scott eases some pandemic restrictions
MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott announced at the beginning of his weekly Tuesday press briefing the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions in Vermont.
He announced three central changes:
• “A small, short-term modification in our gathering policy.”
Scott said each family will be allowed to gather with members of “one other trusted household” between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.
That household must be from Vermont, or travel restrictions including mandatory quarantines and testing will apply.
Scott said those households with members older than 65, with pre-existing conditions, or who work in health care, should consider seriously whether to take advantage of this eased restriction.
• Allowance of residents to gather for outdoor recreation such as running, hiking, ice fishing, sledding and Nordic skiing, providing they follow social distancing and masking guidelines and do not gather afterward.
“You’ve got to follow the arrive, play, leave approach,” Scott said.
• “A phased restart of youth, recreation and school sports.”
Scott said this change specifically does not apply to adult leagues, and spectators are still banned.
Youth, school and recreation teams will be allowed to begin practices on Dec. 26, but those sessions will be limited to skill and conditioning work, and participants must follow social distancing and masking guidelines.
Scott said the remaining stricter provisions he and state health officials imposed a little more than a month ago to deal with the surge of coronavirus infections in Vermont will remain in effect, including closure of bars, social clubs and fitness centers, and limited hours on restaurants.
Those “strict measures,” Scott said, along with more robust testing capacity and contact tracing, have resulted in “stabilization” of the state’s infection numbers, thus allowing the changes he announced.
During Scott’s press conference, he referenced a map of the Northeastern United States that indicated Addison County currently has the lowest number of active cases of COVID-19 anywhere in the 14-state region. The number cited was 928 per million residents (obviously, Addison County has many fewer than a million people living here, so the 928 is a ratio; the actual number of cases is much smaller). No. 2 on the list is Grand Isle County, Vt., which has 1,495 cases per million.
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