Vermont reaches 80% vaccination goal; Scott declares full reopening of state
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont has reached its 80% COVID vaccination goal. Gov. Phil Scott made the announcement Monday morning and said, as promised, he is dropping all existing COVID restrictions.
Vermont is the first state in the nation to reach the 80% mark. The pandemic milestone means masking, social distancing, distance between tables, Plexiglass barriers and other health measures are now recommended, not required. But municipalities and businesses can place restrictions if they choose to do so.
It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for for 15 months-- a return to normal and freedom from the pandemic.
“There are no longer any state COVID-19 restrictions. None,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.
The governor, surrounded by members of his cabinet Monday, ended pandemic restrictions and said he will let the state of emergency expire Tuesday night.
Vermont is the first state in the U.S. to vaccinate 80% of the eligible population.
Scott says restrictions are no longer needed because of our vaccination rate. It’s resulted in the lowest case rate, rate of hospitalization and the fewest deaths per capita.
People we spoke with applaud the hard work.
“Healthy state, good policies. Makes sense,” Aaron Cole said.
“I’m excited to be able to walk around mask-free and be able to walk around and not worry about being sick,” said Zyg Peters.
“It’s exciting to me that COVID is beginning to end,” Helen Warshofski said.
Though all state restrictions are lifted, municipalities and individual businesses can still have their own health and safety requirements including masks, distancing and even proof of vaccination.
With the state of emergency coming to an end, Scott reflected on the 15-month pandemic saga.
“Never did I think I’d be the governor ordering businesses to close, sending kids home from school or telling people to ‘Stay home, stay safe,’” he said.
In the beginning, we faced a shortage of tests, personal protective equipment and grappled with a backlog of unemployment claims.
But the state pivoted, devising a coronavirus mitigation and vaccination plan which led the country.
The governor says it’s all because of the hard work of Vermonters.
“Vermonters met this difficult moment from the start,” he said. “You cared for one another, you followed the science and you put others first.”
But amid the celebration, leaders say the war has not been won. Many Vermonters still don’t have the shot and those under 12 can’t sign up yet.
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says protecting others is a shared responsibility in the months ahead.
“We still need you, my fellow Vermonters, to keep COVID-19 vaccines a top priority,” Levine said.
But when the youngest Vermonters are eligible for the shot, most likely in the fall, the governor and his team say they’ll be ready to deploy vaccines.
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