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Vermont ‘reopening’ will include continued restrictions for some

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 3:47 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont officials could drop all pandemic restrictions by the end of this week. With 79.6% of eligible Vermonters now having had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, that leaves 2,385 still needing to get their shot to reach the 80% target. But even when Vermont hits the magic number, some rules aren’t going away immediately.

When we hit 80%, masking and distancing will be encouraged, not required. And there will be no restrictions on gathering sizes or capacity.

“We’re starting to see a few functions come in now,” said Fredrick Bashara, owner of the Capitol Plaza Hotel, J. Morgans Steakhouse, and the Capitol and Paramount Twin Theatres in Montpelier and Barre. He reopened the Capitol just last week. “I would say we probably had 25% of our occupancy, which is pretty good for our first time open.” He says the Paramount is set to open next week, with high hopes of people coming back for the big screen.

But even when Vermont hits 80% some restrictions will remain. The city of Montpelier is keeping its indoor mask mandate until the governor lifts the state of emergency. “We may call an emergency meeting of the City Council just to lift the restrictions if the state of emergency is not also lifted at the same time,” explained Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson.

Federal masking guidance will remain on public transit, and in long-term care facilities for the time being.

Patients and visitors at UVM Health Network facilities will still have to adhere to some level of restrictions in an effort to protect those who can’t get the shot, officials say, and specific details are coming soon.

Businesses will also be able to enforce masking as well. Watson says some in Montpelier are keeping restrictions in place until everyone has the shot. “They were waiting for everyone to have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated before lifting their own requirement in their stores,” she said.

And once restrictions are lifted, state government will still play a role in keeping the virus at bay, though it’ll be more strategic. “There will probably be 14 centers for COVID that will have testing capabilities, vaccination capabilities, etc., as well as our health care partners obviously,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

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