Burlington officials say social distancing is working, relief on the way for small businesses

Coronavirus

Mayor Miro Weinberger says he’s optimistic social distancing is slowing the spread of the coronavirus in Burlington.

“I do see signs of hope that these extreme measures that we’ve had to take are working, are having an impact,” Weinberger said. “We’re gonna have to keep them up for some time. We’re going to have to stay strong, we’re going to have to stay vigilant.”

City leaders say Vermonters and Burlingtonians appear to be heeding guidelines to remain at home as much as possible, and to keep 6′ away from others when in public. Still, they remain concerned with essential areas, like grocery stores that remain populated.

“Our community is only as strong as the weakest link, don’t be the weak link,” said Police Chief Jen Morrison. “When I go out and I see people running up and greeting each other in the grocery store or employees of businesses huddled together looking at a video on a phone, that’s the weak link.”

Luke McGowan, director of the Community Economic Development Office, said financial relief is on the way for small businesses in the Queen City. CEDO announced $110,000 in grants available immediately. McGowan said the checks will be out within a month.

“We know it’s not enough, but it’s a start,” he said. “We do want to use this also as a way to understand the need that’s out there in the community.”

Age Well, the largest provider of Meals on Wheels, said it is seeing increased demand as more older Vermonters are isolating. They typically serve 6,000 meals in a year’s time, but have already delivered more than 7,000 meals in March alone.

“The increase for more meals is not going away,” said Tracey Shamberger of Age Well. “People that would typically not be on Meals on Wheels in the past absolutely need this essential service.”

As far as city services go, the mayor says all marriage certificates and land record appointments are on hold due to the pandemic.

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