Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Monday ordered new arrivals to the state to self-quarantine for 14 days, and he shut down online bookings for vacation rentals and hotels.
The governor said people should only come to Vermont for essential reasons and that the measures will help minimize infections and prevent patients from overwhelming Vermont health care facilities.
“We've got to remember, as Americans, we're all in this together, and we all have a role to play in keeping each other safe,” Scott said. “So I'm asking everyone to join us in this effort to be united and stay Vermont strong.”
The governor’s new guidance specifically targets people coming from COVID-19 hot spots — such as New York City, Florida and Louisiana — and those who have symptoms of the coronavirus that has so far sickened more than 600,000 people around the globe.
Vermont joins several other states that have tightened travel restrictions in recent days, including Rhode Island, Maine, Florida and Texas.
Scott’s order also applies to Vermonters who are returning from winter homes in warmer climates. Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans) raised this issue during a Sunday conference call, saying his constituents were concerned about sick snowbirds flocking back to Vermont.
Scott said the order is admittedly difficult to enforce but noted the state is posting notices on electronic message boards on the interstates and at Burlington International Airport.
“We can only educate and advocate for them to do the right thing to protect their neighbors, to protect their friends, to protect their family members,” Scott said. “This is the right thing to do. It's literally in your hands to do your part.”
Scott is also cracking down on room rentals by asking police to monitor compliance with his order last week that closed lodging facilities unless they support the state’s COVID-19 response. Over the weekend, Vermont law enforcement found that 41 facilities had violated the executive order, according to Vermont State Police spokesperson Adam Silverman.
The noncompliant facilities ranged across the state but were by far the most concentrated in Chittenden and Bennington counties, which each had 12 violations, state data show. (A full list of the hotels and motels is at the end of this story.)
Those businesses received warning letters and will be contacted by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. Any business found out of compliance could face up to a $10,000 fine or even jail time, Attorney General T.J. Donovan said.
“The last thing any of us want to do is enforce these orders and seek those penalties,” Donovan said. “We’re asking for your cooperation. That being said, we also know that we all have a role to play during this crisis. We're prepared to do our job.”
The Vermont Health Department on Monday announced 21 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 256. Health Commissioner Mark Levine also said the state is monitoring an outbreak at an Essex Junction senior living community, Pinecrest at Essex. Two of the state’s 12 coronavirus fatalities are related to the apartment complex: One was a resident; the other was an employee’s significant other, Levine said.
Several other deaths in Vermont are connected to an outbreak at the Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center, which now counts 18 infected residents and 14 staff members, a facility spokesperson said Monday.
Kevin McCallum, Derek Brouwer and Andrea Suozzo contributed reporting.