In a move that was widely anticipated, Gov. Phil Scott has ordered Vermonters to stay in their homes and directed all businesses to suspend in-person operations by no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday in response to the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

“I want to be very clear about this: We need everyone to limit activities outside of the home and to practice social distancing at all times to slow the spread of this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus,” Scott said. “The more Vermonters who take this seriously and stay home, the faster we can return to normal.”

Scott’s order means Vermont will join at least 16 other states who have directed residents to remain in their homes except in certain circumstances, such as in emergencies and to purchase food and medicine. The moves are aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, particularly among older people and people with chronic health conditions that make them vulnerable to infection.

The governor reminded Vermonters that if they do leave their homes to follow social distancing guidelines, including remaining six feet from others and regularly washing their hands.

The order exempts businesses that provide services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety, including health care operations; grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores; fuel products and supply; maintenance of critical infrastructure; news media; and transportation and critical manufacturing sectors. Click here for the order.

“I need all Vermonters to understand that the more quickly and closely we follow these stay-at-home measures, the faster and safer we can get through this and get our daily lives, and our economy, moving again,” Scott said. “I have tremendous faith in Vermonters and our ability to follow these guidelines, to save lives and support each other throughout – even as we are physical separated.”