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Vt. officials working to provide waiver to camp staying at Rutland hotel

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 5:33 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont health officials say they are trying to work with an out-of-state summer camp that they say violated COVID-occupancy guidelines at a Rutand hotel. The orthodox Jewish camp says they have followed all the guidelines and will not be leaving.

Moshe Perlstein, the director of BRC Teens Camp, says he understands the concerns of the Rutland community. ”I really get it,” he said.

The camp currently has several hundred kids from out-of-state calling the Holiday Inn home for a few weeks this summer. Perlstein says they have all been tested and he promises they won’t leave. “I give you my word that there is nobody leaving this campus,” he said.

And the hotel owner, Enil Sachbed, confirms that the hotel is only rented out for the camp. "There is no guest staying here at the Holiday Inn -- day one the camp started," he said.

The hotel can only be at 50 percent of their 600 guest capacity under state lodging rules. And last week the state notified the hotel they were out of compliance and that some campers would have to leave. Now Vermont officials say they are working to license the hotel temporarily as a summer camp. Summer camps can have up 75 percent capacity so they would be in compliance.

"They said, okay guys, lets get certain paperwork in place -- which we are doing now -- and that will make us be fully in compliance with our numbers," Perlstein said.

But there is still some concern in the community. State Rep. Larry Cupoli, R-Rutland, says he has been hearing from constituents that worry about people gathering and he even sent a letter to the governor with his concern.

"The fact remains that we need to be very careful of this. This virus is real, it's out there, and people are dying," Cupoli said. But he adds that as long as the camp stays isolated, things should be ok. "My concern is basically the people who are around here."

Are residents we spoke with welcomed the group to Vermont. "Of course I welcome anybody to Vermont, man. This is a great place to live. I don't blame them for wanting to come here," said Michael Nagle of Rutland. He just wants them to stay smart and healthy. "I think we should all be concerned because this virus spreads in groups of people."

Perlstein agrees. "We understand the concerns of the people of Vermont, of Rutland. We get it. You are worried for your life, you are worried for your health, being. We respect it and we will not leave the campus," he said.

Pearlstein says they are using the 15 acres on the campus of the hotel, conference rooms, and the pool for for games and recreation.

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