by Mara Brooks
MONTPELIER – Governor Phil Scott announced at a press briefing Friday, Sept. 11 that he will extend the state of emergency until October 15, admitting the virus “is going to be with us until there’s a safe vaccine.”
While COVID numbers in Vermont remain the lowest in the country, Governor Scott said current measures associated with the state of emergency “have helped keep it that way,” and extending it “probably comes as no surprise” to Vermonters.
“This is the vehicle that allows us to manage and continue to suppress the virus,” he said.
Governor Scott acknowledged that for many Vermonters “the thought of doing this for another month, and likely a few more, is disappointing,” but “if the numbers remain good once we get through school reopening and college return, we’ll open that spigot a little more.”
The hospitality industry would be the first to benefit from relaxed safety protocols, Governor Scott said.
“We’d be focusing on the hospitality sector,” he said. “It’s the one that has been the most greatly affected and is most at risk at this point in time.”
He said government assistance in helping the hospitality industry reopen will include “anything we can do to help, as long as it’s safe and the numbers warrant that.”
He will be reviewing the matter “this week” and is hopeful to loosen restrictions on hospitality industry in time for foliage season, he said.
Despite Vermont’s success in containing COVID-19, the governor said that until a safe vaccine is found the state remains vulnerable to outbreaks.
“This is going to be with us until there’s a safe vaccine in place that’s been widely distributed,” he said. “At that point we should be able to manage this just like we do the flu rather than with the drastic steps we’ve had to take over the last six months.”