Some Vermonters head back to work, further announcement expected Friday

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 4:20 PM EDT
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Some Vermont businesses were back up and running Monday as the state eased restrictions on the first of several industries.

If you work in construction or other outdoor work, your season is already limited by the region's weather. Several businesses we heard from were eager to get back to work, even if it was a last-minute scramble to get the employees on board to do it.

Monday was the first day back on the job in a while for First Green. Owner Cassy Gardner had just started training workers when she was told to shut down due to COVID-19. "We had a lot to do and then we got the order that we were not supposed to work, so I just let everybody go and said I didn't know when I was going to be able to have them again," Gardner said.

When she got the news Friday that her landscaping business would be able to reopen, she had one word to describe her reaction. "Elated. For people who have seasonal careers, it's pretty shocking to think that you might not be able to go to work for the busiest months of your season," Gardner said.

For her, that's April, May, and June. Her 30 clients have been itching to get their gardens and yards going, so she's already running behind. "Now we're all sort of in a rush," she said.

The announcement last week affected not just her business but also construction sites and professions like lawyers, appraisers and realtors -- Those whose work allowed them to stay in groups of no more than two and maintain social distancing and hygiene procedures.

Governor Phil Scott Monday said it's difficult to say which businesses would be next to reopen, but he did say they're hoping to announce more this Friday. "We'll just continue to watch the data every day, but just understanding -- and I hope that we can make some announcement every week, so a little bit of a turn every now and then," he said.

But he also warned there would be a lag time of one to two weeks before the impacts of their decisions would be noted in disease data. He said if they see an uptick in cases, they might back off so Vermonters wouldn't be put at risk. "We've done a great job thus far. We don't want to go backwards, we want to move forward.

When asked about protests in other states from people who want to restrictions lifted faster, Scott said he understood their frustrations and said he wants to reopen the state's economy here as quickly as possible while also not jeopardizing public safety.

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