Scott Issues Stay-at-Home Order as Coronavirus Spreads | Off Message

Scott Issues Stay-at-Home Order as Coronavirus Spreads


Gov. Phil Scott at the Statehouse earlier this year - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Gov. Phil Scott at the Statehouse earlier this year
Gov. Phil Scott has ordered Vermont residents to stay at home as much as possible over the next three weeks as the coronavirus is expected to spread through the state.

Scott announced the monumental step in a press release Tuesday evening, saying that people should only leave home for "essential reasons," including grocery shopping; picking up medications; curbside pick-up of goods, meals or beverages; medical care; exercise; caring for others; and work.

“We all must do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 to minimize infections — particularly for those who are elderly or have underlying chronic health conditions — and prevent it from overwhelming our healthcare facilities," Scott said in the press release. "The more Vermonters who take this seriously and stay home, the faster we can return to normal.”

Vermont businesses and nonprofits will also need to cease in-person business starting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, according to the order. Operations that can be done online or over the phone — or sales that can be done with curbside pickup or delivery — can continue.

The order includes a long list of exempted businesses deemed "critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security," including grocery stores, news media, utilities and law enforcement.

Scott's newest order, though unprecedented in recent memory, comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep through the United States. The country has nearly 52,000 cases and 668 deaths so far.

As of Tuesday, Vermont has confirmed 95 cases, including 14 patients and two staffers at the Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center. The nursing home has been hit the hardest by the disease, with five of the state's seven deaths occurring there.

Since declaring a state of emergency earlier this month, Scott has also banned nonessential public gatherings of more than 10 people, shuttered businesses and bars to in-person diners, required all businesses and nonprofits to do everything they can to facilitate telecommuting, and closed Vermont schools until at least April 6.

“I fully recognize the emotional, financial and economic impact of these decisions, but based on the best science we have available, these measures are necessary,” Scott said in a press release. "I have tremendous faith in Vermonters and our ability to follow these guidelines, to save lives and support each other throughout — even as we are physically separated.”

This post will be updated.