(Updated October 23, 2020)
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. Governor Scott and public health officials have set a strategy to slow the spread in order to protect those at greatest risk, ensure capacity at healthcare facilities and minimize the risk to the public. The state is continually updating community mitigation measures and guidance in close consultation with the Vermont Department of Health and based on new information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organiztion (WHO).
For the most current information on COVID-19 in Vermont, visit healthvermont.gov/covid19.
On October 23, 2020, Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, detailed Vermont’s framework for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, once one is produced and distributed to the State. The State has submitted responses to a series of questions from the CDC, laying out the framework for vaccine distribution and Vermont’s preparedness. The federal government, which is responsible for nationwide distribution of vaccines, still needs to provide details on many logistics surrounding a potential vaccine, and this interim COVID-19 vaccination plan will evolve as new information comes forward. To view the full proposal submitted to the CDC, visit healthvermont.gov/covid19-vaccine.
While the State will be prepared for any amount of vaccine, it is expected the initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine will likely be limited. Accordingly, vaccination efforts will need to prioritize groups that are most critical to the response, those who provide direct care and those who are essential to maintaining a functioning society, as well as those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19. Assuming initial supply is limited, the State’s interim plan lays out a phased approach, subject to change, as follows:
- Phase 1a “Jumpstart Phase”
- High-risk health workers
- First responders
- Phase 1b
- People of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at significantly higher risk
- Older adults living in congregate or overcrowded settings
- K-12 teachers and school staff and childcare workers
- Critical workers in high risk settings – workers who are essential to the functioning of society and at substantially higher risk of exposure
- People of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at moderately higher risk
- People in homeless shelters or group homes for individuals with disabilities, including serious mental illness, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities or in recovery, and staff who work in such settings
- Staff, workers and occupants in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities
- All older adults not included in Phase 1
- Young adults
- Workers in industries and occupations important to the functioning of society and at increased risk of exposure not included in Phase 1 or 2
- Everyone residing in the United States who did not have access to the vaccine in previous phases
On March 13, 2020, Governor Phil Scott declared a state of emergency to help ensure Vermont has all the necessary resources to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Executive Order | Press Release | Governor's Video Message| Governor's Press Conference
Strategies are updated based on guidance from federal and state public health officials and include the following actions:
- On October 16, 2020, Governor Scott signed an executive order prohibiting skating rinks from accepting new reservation from October 16 at 5:00 p.m. through midnight on October 30, 2020 to prevent an influx of new users from high risk areas into Vermont’s ice rinks. Addendum 7 to Amended and Restated Executive Order No. 01-20 | Press Release
- On October 15, 2020, Governor Scott announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency had been extended to November 15, 2020. Addendum 6 to Amended and Restated Executive Order No. 01-20 | Press Release
- On September 11, 2020, Governor Scott announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency had been extended to October 15, 2020. Addendum 5 to Amended and Restated Executive Order No. 01-20| Governor's Press Conference
- On August 14, 2020, Governor Scott announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency had been extended to September 15, 2020, as well as additional local discretion for gathering size limits and liquor sales. Addendum 3 to Amended and Restated Executive Order No. 01-20 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On July 31, 2020, Governor Scott signed a directive setting September 8, 2020 as the universal reopening date for Vermont schools. Directive | Press Release
- On July 24, 2020, Governor Scott signed an executive order requiring all Vermonters to wear a mask or cloth facial covering any time it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet with others from outside their household. Addendum 2 to Amended and Restated Executive Order No. 01-20 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- Throughout the month of August 2020, the State distributed up to 300,000 free cloth face coverings to the public, emergency responders and select agencies.
- On July 15, 2020, Governor Scott announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency had been extended to August 15, 2020. Addendum 1 to Amended and Restated Executive Order No. 01-20
- On June 15, 2020, Governor Scott announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency had been extended to July 15, 2020. The order reflected re-openings as of June 15, 2020 and continued to ease restrictions in response to Vermont's low case counts and continued slow growth rate. Amended and Restated Executive Order 01-20 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On May 15, 2020, Governor Scott signed Addendum 14, a Be Smart, Stay Safe order to extend the State of Emergency to June 15, 2020 and update previous emergency orders to reflect re-openings and eased restrictions. Addendum 14 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On April 10, 2020, Governor Scott announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency had been extended to May 15, 2020. Addendum 9 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On April 7, 2020, Governor Scott requested federal disaster funds to assist the state of Vermont in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The request asked for federal Public Assistance (PA) funds for the state and all towns for costs incurred in the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Individual Assistance, including Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling Assistance/Regular Services Program for all Vermont counties. Press Release
- On March 30, 2020, Governor Scott ordered residents and non-residents coming from outside the state for any non-essential purpose to quarantine for 14 days and strongly discouraged travel to Vermont from any COVID-19 “hot spots" designated by the CDC. Addendum 7 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
On March 26, 2020, Governor Scott directed schools to remain dismissed for in-person insutrction through the end of the 2019-2020 school year and ordered districts to implement continuity of learning plans for remote learning. Directive 5 | Press Release | Guidance | Governor Scott's Remarks | Governor's Video Message | Governor's Press Conference
On March 24, 2020, Governor Scott issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and directed the closure of in-person operations for all non-essential businesses (effective March 25-May 15, 2020). Addendum 6 | Press Release | Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses | ACCD Contact form for Businesses |Summary Document | Governor's Video Message | Governor's Press Conference
On March 23, 2020, Governor Scott ordered telecommuting or work from home procedures for all businesses and not-for-profit entities, to the maximum extent possible (effective March 23-May 15, 2020). Addendum 5 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
On March 21, 2020, Governor Scott further restricted non-essential gatherings to 10 or less people (initial restrictions were put in place on March 13 and reduced on March 16). Addendum 4 | Press Release | Governor's Video Message
On March 20, 2020, Governor Scott ordered the suspension of all non-essential adult elective surgery and medical surgical procedures. Addendum 3
On March 17, 2020, Governor Scott directed childcare centers across Vermont to close normal operations but encouraged continued operation exclusively where needed to provide childcare services for workers who are essential to Vermont’s ongoing effort in community mitigation of COVID-19. Directive 2 | Guidance | Press Release |Governor's Press Conference
On March 15, 2020, Governor Scott directed the dismissal of PreK-12 schools and the development of a Continuity of Education Plan. Directive 1 | Guidance | Press Release |Governor's Video Message | Governor's Press Conference
On March 13, 2020, Governor Scott restricted visitor access at long-term care facilities. Guidance
On April 17, Governor Phil Scott outlined an approach for the phased restart of Vermont’s economy, emphasizing the state’s modeling indicates initial steps can be taken to put some Vermonters back to work, while the Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect. This process is being done in close consultation with the experts at the Vermont Department of Health, and based on the state's modeling.
The Governor also outlined five principles, developed in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Health, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), ACCD and others, which will guide the state’s Restart Vermont planning and decision-making process. They are:
- Keep our eyes on the data
- Maintain health care readiness
- Increase testing and tracing
- Work Smarter & Work Safer
- Play Smarter & Play Safer
Restart efforts under these principles include:
- On September 18, updated guidance to allow bar seating at restaurants and bars (with six feet between patrons and a partition between patrons and staff behind the bar), and lifted capacity restrictions to allow lodging establishments to book all available rooms (with mandatory safety measures, travel restrictions, quarantine requirements and dining and gathering limits in place). Press Release
- On August 18, signed an Order modifying state regulations so that home-based providers can be reimbursed for more than 4 hours of care on school days. This will add about 3,000 spots to help parents who are navigating different school schedules for in-person learning. Additionally, it will be develop regional childcare hubs for school-aged children on remote learning days. Addendum 4 to Amended and Restated Executive Order No. 01-20
- On June 26, as state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue to support reopening, Governor Phil Scott announced he will expand the number of states covered under Vermont’s county-by-county quarantine-free travel policy, which allows direct travel from designated counties without a 14-day quarantine requirement. Press Release
- On June 19, announced that, effective June 26, occupancy limits for event venues, arts, culture and entertainment venues, as well as restaurants can expand capacity for events and dining to 50% of approved occupancy size or one person per 100 square feet of customer facing space. This change will allow for indoor events of up to 75 people and outdoor organized events of up to 150. Press Release | ACCD Guidance
- On June 17, announced several measures to gradually ease restrictions on Vermonters in long-term care facilities, hospitals and those over the age of 65. Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On June 15, signed an executive order to update and extend the State of Emergency in Vermont to July 15. The latest order reflects all current (June 15) re-openings and eased restrictions, which have been underway since late April to account for the State’s low case counts and continued slow growth rate. Amended and Restated Executive Order 01-20 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On June 5, as state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue to support reopening, Governor Scott announced the resumption of limited indoor seating at restaurants and bars and a data-driven approach to allow travel to and from designated areas without a 14-day quarantine requirement. Addendum 17 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference | ACCD Guidance
- On June 1, announced a restart plan for resuming driver’s license tests and a new service for Vermonters to receive their learner’s permit online as the state begins limited resumption of services paused due to COVID-19. Press Release
- On May 29, announced the resumption of additional close contact businesses, dental procedures, businesses that require work in the home, and of limited overnight youth summer camp programming. As state modeling continues to indicate a low number of COVID-19 cases, he also increased the size of social gatherings. Press Release | Governor's Press Conference | ACCD Guidance | Health Department Guidance
- On May 22, announced the resumption of additional business operations, including outdoor seating at restaurants and bars, hair salons and barber shops and some additional health services. Addendum 15 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference | ACCD Guidance | Health Department Guidance
- May 20, ACCD issued guidance enabling restaurants to offer limited outdoor service starting May 22nd. The guidance allows dining to occur in accordance with mandatory health and safety practices outlined in the Work Safe guidelines.
- On May 19, ACCD released new sector specific guidance, effective immediately. Low contact professional services, including but not limited to attorneys, accountants, realtors, non-profit workers, and municipal workers, will be able to resume in-person business operations in settings of 10 or fewer people. Pools, beaches, and swimming facilities may open in accordance with previously issued outdoor recreation and fitness guidance. Vermonters may hold yard sales and garage sales with 10 or fewer people; hosts and visitors must practice social distancing and it is recommended that they wear cloth face coverings. Those coming to Vermont from out-of-state must quarantine in Vermont before utilizing a lodging property, campground or short-term rental.
- On May 15, signed Addendum 14, a Be Smart, Stay Safe order to extend the State of Emergency to June 15 and update previous emergency orders to reflect re-openings and eased restrictions announced in recent weeks. Addendum 14 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On May 6, announced that outdoor recreation and limited social interactions may resume under strict health and safety precautions, as state modeling continues to indicate a slow in the spread of COVID-19. Addendum 13 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On May 4, announced limited elective procedures would resume, which had previously been put on hold as Vermont’s health care system focused on preparing for, and responding to, COVID-19. Ammendment to Addendum 3 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On May 1, announced a third incremental, evidence-based step forward to put Vermonters back to work. Addendum 12 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On April 29, the state is significantly increasing and strengthening its testing and contact tracing programs in order to quickly identify, contain and suppress outbreaks of COVID-19. Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On April 24, outlined some additional openings as part of the phased restart of Vermont’s economy. Addendum 11 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
- On April 17, outlined an approach for the phased restart of Vermont’s economy, emphasizing the state’s modeling indicates initial steps can be taken while the Stay Home/Stay Safe order remains in effect. Addendum 10 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
“I want every Vermonter to know I understand fully the incredible economic and emotional toll coronavirus is having and will continue to have on each and every one of us. As we continue to work on our first mission to protect the health of Vermonters, we also know financial security is critical for us to recover from this pandemic as well… Let me be clear: my team and I are fully aware these initiatives are not enough. People are hurting and businesses are at risk. Let me assure you: we will pull every lever and turn every dial we can to support folks through this time.” – Governor Phil Scott, March 20, 2020
On May 20, Governor Scott announced a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act. Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
On June 12, Governor Scott announced Phase II a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act. Proposal | Press Conference
- Made unemployment available to all Vermonters who can’t work because of COVID-19.
- Waived the work search requirement for all unemployment insurance claimants until further notice.
- Established an online form for initial unemployment insurance applications to help Vermonters submit claims more quickly.
- Worked with the Legislature to provide unemployment insurance experience rating relief to employers for employees who are laid off or unable to work due to COVID-19.
- Implemented the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUA) program to provide unemployment benefits to Vermonters who are not traditionally eligible, as well as the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program for claimants who exhausted their benefits and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit to provide an additional $600 weekly payment to all claimants.
- Made changes to reduce employers’ unemployment insurance tax rates and increase the maximum weekly benefit amount for claimants.
- Secured $35.8 million in federal Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) funds (plus a second round of LWA funding) to provide an additional $300 weekly benefit to eligible unemployment claimaints for a total of six weeks, and secured $17 million in Coronavirus Relief funding from the Vermont Legislature to provide an additional $100 Short-Term Supplemental Benefit for a total of four to five weeks.
- Directed insurers to cover any medically necessary COVID-19 testing without charging any out of pocket costs for the patient.
- Required commercial insurers to waive cost-sharing requirements, such as co-payments, coinsurance or deductible requirements, for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. The emergency regulation is retroactive to March 13, 2020, when State of Emergency was declared.
- Directed insurers to make at least a 30-day supply of prescription medication available and encouraged insurers to make a larger supply available when appropriate.
- The Department of Financial Regulation is working with MVP and Blue Cross Blue Shield to encourage the insurers to make sure no one loses their healthcare coverage during this time.
- Approved a premium relief plan submitted by Northeast Delta Dental, Vermont’s largest provider of dental benefits, to provide $2.89 million in premium relief to approximately 70,000 Vermonters after the suspension of most dental services due to COVID-19.
- Urging insurers to expand coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine services, including for office services provided over the phone (audio-only) or by “store-and-forward” means that are currently appropriate for telemedicine, as well as for a broader scope of services, including mental health.
- Launched the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program to utilize up to $275 million in federal Coronavirus Relief funding to provide direct cash grants to eligible health care and human service providers who have lost revenue and/or observed increased expenses due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The grants are administered in two application cycles: one beginning July 17, 2020 and one beginning October 19, 2020.
Utilities and Connectivity
- The Public Service Department worked with utilities to ensure that Vermonters are not disconnected during the State of Emergency due to inability to pay.
- The Public Service Department released an interactive Public Wi-Fi Hot Spot Map to help Vermonters connect to publicly available internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a web page detailing new connectivity resources.
- Will work with the Legislature to ease barriers to construction of essential communications facilities to ensure systems are not interrupted in this time of critical need.
- Worked with the Legislature to put in place a temporary moratorium on disconnections from public drinking water and wastewater systems.
- Announced an innovative collaboration with several partners that will increase internet access with public Wi-Fi hotspots for dozens of rural towns in Vermont, and worked with Comcast to extend broadband service to more than 430 addresses in seven Vermont communities.
- Announced $8 million in available grant funding to assist Vermonters with overdue utility bills as a result of economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small Business Support
** For details on available resources and funding for businesses, please visit accd.vermont.gov/covid-19 **
- Applied for and secured a statewide disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help small business owners suffering economic injury due the COVID-19 pandemic apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), offering up to $2 million in assistance per business.
- Launched the Vermont Emergency Economic Recovery Grant Program, utilizing federal Coronavirus Relief funding to provide direct cash grants to Vermont businesses with revenue losses due to COVID-19.
- Increased to the maximum grant award for Emergency Economic Recovery Grant Program for businesses in the lodging, retail, hospitality, arts, travel and event affiliated sectors that have continued capacity constraints.
- Working with the Legislature, allocated an additional $76 million to the Expanded Emergency Economic Recovery Grant Program for Vermont businesses and non-profits who demonstrate unmet need.
- Provided relief to Vermont businesses who owe Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax until further notice, waiving penalties and interest for late submission of these taxes for taxpayers who are unable to meet the March 25, 2020 and April 25, 2020 filing deadlines.
Working with the Legislature to provide funding to support small business loans through the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to provide state fund disaster relief loans.
- Eased liquor laws to allow restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages as part of takeout service.
- Granted license extensions under the Department of Health’s Food and Lodging Program to all businesses (including restaurants, hotels, caterers, etc.) that were due for renewal from March 1, 2020 - June 30, 2020.
- Granted license extensions under the Department of Liquor and Lottery’s liquor licensing and permitting program to all businesses that were due for renewal on April 30, 2020.
- Launched the Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program to provide $25 million in federal Coronavirus Relief funding to dairy producers and processors who have experienced income loss, additional expenses and market disruption as a result of the pandemic.
- Provided financial support to child care providers during the COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe order as well as financial incentives for providers serving the children of essential workers.
- Launched the Operational Relief Grant (ORG) program to provide $12 million in federal Coronavirus Relief funding to help mitigate operational expenses and losses for child care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Launched the Small Business Recovery Technical Assistance Program to provide free technical assistance resources to businesses navigating the pandemic.
Flexibility and Relief
- Extended income tax filing due dates from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020, allowing taxpayers to file and pay income taxes on or before July 15, 2020 without any penalty or interest.
- Announced a multi-state initiative to secure student loan relief options for thousands of Vermonters with privately held student loans.
- Provided $30 million in housing assistance to those affected by COVID-19, including relief for tenants unable to pay rent, landlords suffering from a loss of rent payments and lower income homeowners needing assistance in paying their mortgages.
- Worked with the Legislature to launch and expand the Frontline Employee Hazard Pay Grant Program to provide grant payment to employees who were engaged in activities substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency or were providing essential services to Vermonters.
- Worked with Allstate and its affiliate insurance companies to reduce their auto insurance premiums for Vermont policyholders by approximately 15% due to reduced driving during the COVID-19 pandemic, which will amount to over $500,000 in savings for Vermonters. More than forty additional auto insurance companies filed plans to return premiums or reduce their rates for Vermont policyholders, which amount to over $14.6 million in savings for Vermonters.
- The Department of Financial Regulation is encouraging financial institutions to provide flexibility for customers by waiving fees, delaying loan repayments, and more.
- The Department of Motor Vehicles granted a 90-day extension for all license and registration renewals and launched a new online systems for license renewals and temporary registrations and license plates.
- Working to ease the Agency of Natural Resources’ procedural requirements to accommodate surge capacity needs at healthcare facilities.
- Working to ease regulatory burdens on healthcare professionals and extend licensing renewals to give our healthcare providers more flexibility on licensing, staffing and referrals.