Scott administration loosens restrictions on travel, hospitality as cases climb Chester one of few area towns to allow fireworks

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The Vermont Department of Health confirmed seven new Covid-19 cases on Friday, for a surge of 54 cases in a week, over twice the increase of last week, with the largest jump of 20 cases being reported on Wednesday. The total number of cases in Vermont on Saturday stood at 1,200 with no new deaths reported. Fifty-six in Vermont people have died of the disease.

The department is attributing more than half of the week’s activity to a handful of outbreaks and clusters that it  has been monitoring around the state. A workplace in Fair Haven has been identified as the location of an outbreak being monitored in Rutland County. According to Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, there are 12 cases in that outbreak but only two of those infected are Vermont residents. The other 10 are from New York state.

The department was also monitoring a cluster in Windham County throughout the week, with four cases confined to a single family of two adults and two children. The number in that cluster has not increased since first being identified although Windham County did see an increase of eight cases, with a total of 94 as of Saturday. Seven cases have been added to the Winooski outbreak total this week, which now stands at 115 cases. Windsor County saw an increase of three new cases, totaling 58.

According to the health department, a total of 62,723 people have been tested in Vermont to date. There are two patients currently hospitalized with the virus, down from four on Friday, and the number of those in the hospital who are suspected of having the illness, has increased by three patients to 12.

There will be pop-up Covid-19 testing in Springfield on the next four Tuesdays – June 30, July 14, July 21 and July 28. To schedule an appointment click this link and scroll down to the appropriate date.

In an effort to help the state’s struggling hospitality industry, Gov. Phil Scott announced on Friday that as of Wednesday, July 1, he is expanding the number counties from which residents can freely travel to Vermont without quarantine. These are counties that have fewer than 400 active cases of Covid-19 including those in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Scott also said that the county list would be updated weekly. This current loosening means that 19 million additional people can now travel to Vermont without restriction. Click this link to see the expanded travel map.

Scott also announced that playgrounds would now be allowed to open with guidelines that include keeping 6 feet apart, washing hands often, staying home when sick and wearing a mask when possible. He said signs should be posted with these guidelines and that hand washing and/or hand sanitizing should be made available when possible.

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development updated its drive-in operation guidance last week to make it clear that firework displays can move forward if they are drive-in viewing events. According to the guidelines (scroll down to 5.2), vehicles must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart, people should stay in or near their vehicles to prevent interaction with other parties, and no gathering of more than 25 people are permitted outside of vehicles. However according to guidelines that went into effect this week, outdoor organized events are now allowed to hold gatherings of up to 150 people (1 person per 100 square feet of space.)

Chester is one of the few local towns that will have a fireworks display this summer. The fireworks, scheduled for Friday, July 3, are sponsored by the Chester American Legion Post #67.

For more statewide details on Covid-19 information, including a map approximating numbers of infections by town, visit the health department’s website.

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