Vermont to allow larger social gatherings on Friday

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Starting Friday, Vermonters will be allowed to gather in larger groups. That's the announcement Gov. Phil Scott will be making in his press conference on Friday, June 26.

The Vermont Department of Health's Tracy Dolan says the department stands behind the governor's decision to allow social gatherings of up to 75 people inside a building and up to 150 people at an outdoor gathering. The department says this move is supported by data they're collecting.

"So we're doing a lot of testing," Dolan said. "We continue to have a low case rate, even though there are small outbreaks -- though we would expect that. So, it really continues to pair with the surveillance that we're doing."

Some Vermonters think that this is also the next logical step in reopening the state, but they admitted they're cautious about the idea.

"I think it's time," said Amarre Clarke, a resident of South Burlington. "I mean, I think Vermont has been doing really well with its cases and stuff."

"I definitely err on the side of caution," said Jane Barnard of Stowe. "But I would say that if that is what the health professionals are recommending, then I'm comfortable with that."

Most are OK with the thought of larger outdoor social gatherings, just not when the party moves indoors. Sophie Smith of South Burlington and Alice Norris of Huntington are among those who say they're uneasy about the thought of going into a building with that any other people.

"I think we might be rushing a little," Smith said. "I just feel like, I don't want it to start up again."

"I personally don't feel comfortable going into an enclosed area with a large number of people at this point," Norris said. "Outdoors, I feel like it's easier to socially distance."

Dolan says the largest indicator that the state is ready for this next step, is the low rate of new cases and their ability to handle a spike in potential cases.

"We've had relatively low numbers of new cases compared to how many people we're testing," Dolan said. "That's really one of the key pieces, and the fact that we have enough staff to and capacity to manage if the cases do go up."

The Department of Health says they will continue to monitor cases throughout the state and will take additional steps in preventing more cases from appearing.