Vermont is easing travel restrictions for residents and visitors who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting next week, Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday.
Two weeks after receiving their second dose of the vaccine, Vermonters do not have to quarantine after travel starting on Tuesday, he said during his twice-weekly virus briefing. Out-of-state visitors to Vermont also are exempt from quarantining if they can prove that they have been fully vaccinated.
“Of course they’ll still need to comply with all our other health guidance like masking and distancing,” Scott said.
The state is also easing restrictions for fully vaccinated residents of long-term care facilities in areas where there are no current outbreaks beginning on Feb. 26. The state is encouraging full vaccination status as a factor in planning for activities, such as eating together and participating in other group activities, and having indoor visitors, said Human Services Secretary Mike Smith.
Residents of all skilled nursing facilities have received the second dose of the vaccine, Smith said. A total of 93% of residents of all skilled nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities have gotten their first dose, and 74% have received their second dose, he said.
“We certainly recognize the toll separating residents from their loved ones has taken,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said. “We’re glad vaccination efforts have been so successful in these facilities that it can help residents feel safe while making it possible to have greater freedoms and connection with others. Whether they’re visiting with families, eating meals together, participating in group activities we believe facilities can set a path forward and still maintain the safety standards we’ve all been dedicated to throughout the pandemic.”
In other pandemic-related news:
UPS severed its relationship with a Vermont store that refused to comply with the state’s mask rules, and the store now faces a lawsuit by the state.
In a Thursday statement, the company said it ended its franchise deal with the store in Newport after it refused to comply with the company’s uniform policy, which includes wearing masks.
“We take customer safety very seriously and made repeated attempts to gain compliance from this franchise owner,” but those efforts were ignored, the statement said.
Facial coverings in stores are required as part of Vermont’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
A sign posted on the store’s door said, “We choose not to wear a mask.” It asked people uncomfortable with that not to enter the store.
On Friday, a person who answered the phone at the store declined to comment.
Attorney General T.J. Donovan said Friday his office filed a lawsuit against the store, asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop it from violating Vermont’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“I am disappointed that we have been left with no choice but to seek an order from the court to bring this business and its owner into compliance,” Donovan said in a statement. “As Vermonters, we all share a duty to help keep our friends, neighbors, employees, and customers safe.”
Vermont reported 97 new coronavirus cases on Friday for a statewide total to date of more than 14,250.
Thirty-seven people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 13 in intensive care, according to the Health Department.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 140 new cases per day on Feb. 4 to 128.57 new cases per day on Feb. 18.
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