Scott lifts bar and restaurant curfews, announces funding boost for summer programs

Coronavirus

MONTPELIER – For the first time since November, Vermont bars, restaurants and social clubs will be able to stay open past 10 pm.

Governor Phil Scott made the announcement at his Friday COVID-19 briefing. The changes will go into effect on Saturday. He said stronger vaccination rates among the 18 to 29 age group was a big factor in the decision.

“This is a time when we think we’re within a week or two of lifting all restrictions, so we felt that it was safe to do so at this point in time,” Governor Scott said.

Over 10,000 eligible Vermonters will still need to get their first dose of the COVID-19 before Vermont reaches Governor Scott’s 80 percent threshold to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions.

Another announcement at Friday’s briefing will provide a big boost for Vermont students in their recovery from the pandemic – Previously, $1.5 million had been set aside for the Summer Matters for All Grant Program, but that has ballooned to $3.8 million.

That means over 31,000 new summer program slots have been created, and the weekly cost for families will be $162 lighter.

“188 proposals were submitted, totaling over $7 million in demand, far exceeding the original $1.5 million we had planned for,” Governor Scott said.

“One thing that is clear is the impressive depth and variety of options that are being offered,” said Holly Morehouse, Executive Director of Vermont Afterschool. “I can’t say enough about the creativity, care and collaboration behind each of these summer programs, each one truly is a story in and of itself.”

The federal grants were secured by Senator Bernie Sanders and awarded to summer camps, libraries, municipalities, teen centers, non-profit social services organizations and other groups.

“As we prepare to close out what has been one of the most challenging school years in the modern history of our nation, it is good news that we are making significant progress for our young people,” said Senator Sanders.

55 of the grant recipients will offer transportation, 100 will offer low or no cost programming for eligible students, and 90 are ensuring access for all kids, including those with disabilities or unique needs.

Meanwhile, as Vermont students wrap up the 2020-21 school year, Education Secretary Dan French said ‘if and when’ Governor Scott lifts the State of Emergency before summer vacation, districts should continue following the same COVID-19 guidelines through their final weeks. French said there’s not enough time to outline new procedures, but did offer a glimpse of what school might look like for students this fall.

“We believe it is unlikely any specific mitigation measures will be necessary in schools for the fall,” French said. “We are confident distancing will not be necessary, the issue of masks is something we intend to review over the summer. Schools should plan on full in person in the fall, five days a week.”

The Vermont Department of Health also wants Vermonters to know about a wide range of walk-in vaccine clinics throughout the weekend.

On Saturday, a Johnson & Johnson clinic will be held at the Burlington Farmers Market. That runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 345 Pine Street.

Meanwhile, Thunder Road is also hosting a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Sunday as part of the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available in the main parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 61 Fisher Road in Barre. 

There will also be opportunities at the Orleans County Fair’s truck pull on Saturday or the concert on Sunday. Get more info and find a clinic near you for a fast and easy vaccine shot at healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine.

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