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Racial Justice Alliance asks for more mandates, Gov. Scott says no

Published: Oct. 30, 2021 at 11:06 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As Vermont nears 40,000 COVID cases, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance is asking Governor Phil Scott to reinstate restrictions that were in place during last year’s lockdown. But the Governor’s team says that’s not the direction they want to lead Vermont.

Some of the organization’s recommendations include an indoor mask mandate, a vaccine mandate, and the 30-day closure of all close-contact businesses such as salons and gyms. They also want the Governor to delay employees from going back to work offices until January.

Mark Hughes, the executive director of the Racial Justice Alliance, says the organization believes renewed restrictions are warranted due to the recent spike in cases due to the Delta variant and the number of breakthrough cases among those who are fully vaccinated.

“It’s just that it’s worse than it’s ever been and we’re not responding to it as if it’s an emergency,” said Hughes. “It’s callous, if not completely immoral, for us to just hunker down and ride this out. The political reward on the other side is not worth the lives we’re seeing lost.”

Gov. Scott’s Office says “The Governor has no plans” to “move backwards.”

Jason Maulucci, Scott’s press secretary, says despite the current Delta wave “Vermont consistently has had one of the lowest fatality and hospitalization rates in the country. We’ve also had among the lowest test positivity rates throughout, as well.”

He also says “If the Governor believed state mandates were needed, he would implement them. But the fact is, declaring a state of emergency after nearly 20 months of experience with this virus and reimposing broad restrictions and closures is not something Vermonters would accept.”

WCAX News asked people in Burlington what they think.

“The problem is that when you have half the country trying to do something and the other half fighting it, how are you ever going to get it done? Right. You’re not,” said Todd Lacroix.

“I think the way it is right now is okay,” said Thomas Grykien. “It’s optional in the store I’m at. I choose to wear [a mask] as an extra precaution but if someone’s vaccinated, I think it should be their right to wear it or no.”

“If a business owner feels comfortable running their business and they think they can run their business, they should be allowed to,” said Mike Thomas-Adam. “If they decide they want all of their customers to come in wearing masks and washing their hands and using hand sanitizer regularly, they should be allowed to implement those rules.”

Maulucci says instead of mandates, the Governor is encouraging Vermonters to get the vaccine and the booster shot, and make smart and safe decisions.

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