Vermont returns to ‘normal’ as Scott rescinds state of emergency

Gov. Phil Scott this morning signs the order directing state agencies to end special COVID-19 restrictions now that more than 80% of Vermonters have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott this morning lifted all state COVID-19 restrictions.

The State of Emergency, in place since March 13, 2020, will expire at midnight tomorrow.

The order came after the announcement that Vermont yesterday became the first state to vaccinate over 80% of eligible residents, making it the global leader in COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Vermont has shown the world what’s possible,” Gov. Scott said in this morning’s press conference. “We are here only because of the unity of the people of Vermont, whose commitment to their neighbors and care for each other never wavered.”

The state reached the vaccination milestone after a weekend in which first responders, National Guard members and health professionals fanned out around the state to administer COVID-19 vaccines at walk-in clinics in 56 locations. Nine more clinics were scheduled for today.

As of today 80.2% of Vermonters age 12 and older have at least one dose of the vaccine, Scott said. He lauded his fellow Vermonters for their effort to protect their community.

 “You care for each other, you followed the science, and you put others first,” he said.

While happy to rescind the State of Emergency, Scott was not ready for Vermonters to take their guard down completely.

When asked if Vermonters could celebrate at the end of the presser, Gov. Scott said he and his crew had not popped any bottles of champagne, and cautioned that COVID-19 is still dangerous in many parts of the world.

Scott first imposed emergency regulations that focused on social distancing and closed in-person schooling at the outset of the pandemic. He added a face mask requirement last July 24.

But after a number of surges when almost 300 Vermonters contracted the disease on some days, COVID-19’s stranglehold on the state began to abate this spring.

As of today, 24,331 Vermonters have been diagnosed with the disease caused by coronavirus — 23,723 have recovered, according to the Vermont Department of Health. The DOH reports the 256 Vermonters have died.

Addison County has seen 1,062 positive cases, with a handful of deaths.

Gov. Scott acknowledged that while he feels it is safe to lift all restrictions, some Vermonters will want to remain cautious. “We will continue to show respect and compassion for each other,” he said, emphasizing that operations will be able to determine their own guidelines (i.e. asking customers to wear masks while indoors).

But in terms of state-sanctioned guidelines, today signals the return to “normal,” Gov. Scott said.

What that normal looks like remains to be seen.

“Our work is not done,” Gov. Scott said, adding that additional vaccine sites will open and vigorous testing will continue to be offered throughout the state. More details around navigating the transition out of the State of Emergency, including protocols for continuing food and housing aid and financial support, will be shared tomorrow.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Scott’s remarks here.

With Gov. Scott at the press conference were several representatives of the team he has worked with over the past 15 months, a team he shouted out for possessing extraordinary “character, commitment, competence and chemistry.”

He also offered a heartfelt thank you to “everyday Vermonters.”

“You showed the world how to respond when there’s no playbook, and how to do so with civility,” Gov. Scott said.

“We should all be very proud, I know I am.”

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