Scott backs up efforts to curtail travel from virus hot spots

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Don't come to Vermont if you don't need to -- that's the message from Governor Phil Scott as part of the latest efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Scott Monday discouraged people from travelling to the state from COVID-19 hot spots such -- including any Vermont snowbirds returning home. He wants them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

But he also cautioned against knee jerk divisiveness. "We can't let this become an us versus them view of the world. That's not who we are as Americans and certainly not who we are as Vermonters," Scott said.

Additionally, the state is cracking down on lodging establishments that have stayed open in defiance of the governor's order for nonessential businesses to close.

"Folks can expect to see troopers and police in the parking lots and making sure to check compliance," said Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling.

Out of the hotels and motels that were part of a compliance crackdown this weekend, the state says 41 appeared to be in violation. WCAX spoke with several of them in Barre who all declined to comment on camera. Some hotel staff however said they're concerned about tenants who rent on a weekly or monthly basis.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan says violating an executive order can carry a penalty of up to $10,000 and six months in jail. "We're asking for your compliance and we're asking for your cooperation. That being said, we all have a role to play during this crisis. We're prepared to do our job, the attorney general's office is prepared to do its job," he said.

Lodging that aids in the state's response to the coronavirus for medical workers or emergency housing approved by the state are still allowed to operate.

The governor admits that enforcement of the new policies will be difficult, but says its up to all of us to do the right thing. "We can only educate and advocate for them to do the right thing. To advocate for them to protect their neighbors, to protect their friends, to protect their family members," he said.

The governor says people that are part of the COVID-19 response or other essential jobs can still travel across state lines.