Should Vermont roll up welcome mat for out-of-towners?

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 4:34 PM EDT
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As they economy comes to a screeching halt, tourist towns and those who rely on second-home owners to spend cash, are especially feeling the pinch. Compounding the problem, Governor Phil Scott is urging out-of-staters to not to travel to Vermont.

Some are saying that the virus needs to take priority over everything, including the local economy, others say second home owners are as much a part of the community as everyone else. It's a question about finding a balance that may not have an easy answer.

"I don't want the virus to come to Woodstock, but at the same time, they have a right to be here," said Beth Finlayson with the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce. But, it's a different message than the one issued from Governor Phil Scott.

"We are not going to turn our back on them, but certainly we are discouraging folks from coming," Gov. Phil Scott said this week.

More than half the homes in Woodstock are owned by out-of-towners who vacation in the Green Mountains and spend money here almost every season of the year.

"Maybe they are going to be here and get take out for the Worthy Kitchen of the Prince and the Popper and that is important right now," Finlayson said.

But others have different concerns. David Miles has lived in town for almost 30 years. "I'm a little concerned about my wife who has asthma. She's at home. She is not going anywhere. I want to be careful where I go," Miles said. And he's very conscious about who he interacts with. "The less people who move around the better. Whether they are second home owners, whether they are traveling to get away from it."

Miles acknowledges that second home owners are members of the community but he says it's better to be safe than sorry. "The economy could take a bigger hit if we keep moving around and the virus goes on longer and longer," he said.

Currently, Main Street, which is usually bustling with late season ski traffic is quiet and some stores are closed. It appears people are staying away.

"They are community members and if they have a second home here and feel safe because they can hike up Mount Tom. I think we should welcome them," Finlayson said.

Governor Scott also said that the state will take care of everyone if they do get sick in Vermont. He has repeatedly said that we are all in this together.

Florida's governor Tuesday said he expected people to voluntarily comply with a new executive order requiring anyone arriving on a flight from the New York City area to self-quarantine for two weeks.

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