Scott announces strict new distancing guidelines that prohibit multi-family gatherings

Coronavirus

Saying Vermont is moving in the wrong direction on the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Phil Scott announced new restrictions on social gatherings Friday, including an order that prohibits multi-family gatherings inside and outside.

Scott said he had “no choice” but to impose the strict new guidelines, which go into effect immediately. He said the new order applies “whether at a home, a bar, or in a parking lot after a game. 

“Inside or outside,” he said.

“It’s no coincidence that we’re seeing these increases 12 days after we know many gathered for Halloween parties,” Scott said. “And though we have been warning against these activities for weeks, they’re still happening.”

The new order comes after a week of action to combat the surge in cases, which is occurring through out the U.S. On Wednesday, Scott temporarily suspended Vermont’s travel map and advised anyone visiting the state or residents who return from out of state to quarantine for 14 days.

He also ordered the expansion of surge hospitals that have been largely unused since they were set up in the spring. A 50-bed surge site in Essex Junction will be increased to 150 beds, with 250 additional beds in reserve. A 50-bed field hospital surge hospital in the Rutland area is ready to add 50 additional beds.

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, the total number of positive cases now stands at 2,743, with 59 deaths reported. More than 20 people are currently hospitalized for treatment, with three in the intensive care unit.

Scott’s order also prohibits in-person business at bars and social clubs, effective Saturday. Restaurants can continue in-person service, but only until 10 p.m.. The order also puts most recreational sports on hold.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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