Scott allows bar seating with restrictions; lodgings can now book at 100 percent

Photo by Nathan Bingle for Unsplash.

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Gov. Phil Scott has “turned the spigot” for the hospitality sector this week, allowing for lodging to increase to 100 percent capacity and for restaurants and bars to offer bar seating with some restrictions.

Lodging may now book 100 percent of rooms, however travelers should either be from Vermont or if from out-of-state, should come from counties identified as “safe” by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development or follow the appropriate quarantine requirements as outlined by the ACCD.

Gathering in public spaces within a lodging structure remains restricted to 75 people indoors or 150 people outdoors. Bar seating may only be opened if a physical barrier, like plexiglass, separates patrons from bartenders and the drink preparation area, and as long as parties are able to maintain a 6-foot distance from each other.

Bar service in Vermont is now allowed, with restrictions. Photo by Danielle Rice for Unsplash.

Restaurant indoor seating capacity remains at 50 percent occupancy, or one person per 100 square feet, with a maximum of 75 people indoors or 150 people outdoors. See those and other details here.

News from the Vermont Department of Health remains positive for Vermont as the state continues to lead the nation in low coronavirus numbers with the lowest positivity rate and the lowest per capita case total in the country. Vermont’s numbers have been so good that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joined Gov. Scott’s Tuesday press conference to praise Vermont’s efforts saying, “…it should be the model of how you get to such a low-test positivity that you can actually start opening up the economy in a safe and prudent way.”

The Vermont Department of Health reported a total of 38 new Covid-19 cases this week, up from the 26 cases  last week, for a total of 1,706 total cases. These numbers are based on data published on the health department’s daily dashboard, tracking cases reported during the span from Friday, Sept. 11 to Friday, Sept. 18. The number of Covid deaths in Vermont remains at 58, a number that has not increased in 51 days.

Since schools opened on Tuesday, Sept. 8, K-12 classes have seen three positive Covid-19 cases within two schools. According to state Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine during Tuesday’s press conference, this was “not unexpected.” Two cases were from the Crossett Brook School in Washington County and one was from Hartford High School in Windsor County. In response, Crossett Brook Middle School decided to close for the week of Sept. 14. According to Levine at Friday’s press conference, all testing that’s been done in the Crossett Brook School area has come back negative and all 23 identified close contacts are now in quarantine.

There were no close contacts identified for the Hartford High student and that school resumed classes on Monday, Sept. 13.

Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the state Department of Financial Regulations, who does predictive modeling for the state, said that higher education student numbers continue to be upbeat with more than 45,000 tests given to college students, and only 42 positives in total.

The health department has added two new links to its website. One tracks Vermont K-12 School Covid-19 transmission and one provides links to public Covid testing dashboards for Vermont universities and colleges.

Statewide testing of unique individuals slowed slightly this week, with a total of 5,524 new people tested, down from last week’s 6,377. Overall testing numbers this week were consistent with last week however, hovering just under the 25,000 mark. This larger number includes second and third tests for some people.

Chittenden County saw an increase of 19 positive cases this week for a total of 827, returning to their typical trend of approximately 50 percent of new cases. Washington County, where the Crossett Brook School is located, saw an increase of 10 cases, jumping from 66 to 76. Windham County gained zero new cases for the second week in a row, remaining at 123, while Windsor County reported one new case, totaling 83.

Hospitalized patients with Covid-19 increased by two patients for a total of three. The “hospitalization under investigation” number remained unchanged at three. Contacts Monitored, which includes close contacts of people who have already tested positive, dropped from 38 to 32. Travelers being monitored, which includes those participating in the Sara Alert system, also dropped, going from 477 to 464.

The pop-up Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has Tuesday dates available on Sept. 22 and Sept. 29. The testing location is at the Springfield UU Meetinghouse on Fairground Road. To schedule a test, click on this link and scroll down to the “Register for Pop-Up Testing” button. This site has recently added a link to sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development updated Vermont’s cross-state travel information map on Friday, Sept. 18. This map identifies the surrounding counties throughout the Northeast that can now freely travel to Vermont without quarantine. This is a county-by-county list for those areas that have less than 400 active COVID-19 cases per million residents and is updated weekly. Eligible travel counties increased dramatically this week, with possible travelers to Vermont going from to 5.6 million to 7.4 million. According to Pieciak, the large increase was due to a number of high population counties from further afield, now having lower infection rates. Click this link to see the latest updates to this interactive county map.

Updates to the travel map will now be communicated during Tuesday’s press conference starting next week, to give travelers a better chance to plan. The state has launched a Small Business Recovery Technical Assistance program to help Vermont businesses adjust to pandemic impacts by offering free technical assistance from five organizations around the state. Help with website design, legal services, grant writing, software design and space redesign were some of the services highlighted. Click here for more details on the program. For more statewide details on Covid-19 information and resources, click here.

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