Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger updated city residents on his adminstration’s response to the coronavirus.
Joined by Burlington Fire Chief Steven Locke and Community and Economic Development Director Luke McGowan, Weinberger said all bars and restaurants in the city will close starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday for at least 24 hours.
Declaring a state of emergency, Weinberger said the city is suspending disconnections of municipal utility services until further notice, and will work to put together a relief package for workers and others impacted by the state and city’s response to the virus. Access to city buildings and many city services will be curtailed or suspended starting Wednesday.
“The City is taking further action because we are dealing with a global pandemic unlike any other that we have seen in modern times,” he said. “Around the world and the United States, we are seeing this virus spread at an almost exponential rate.”
Weinberger directed McGowan to head up relief efforts. In addition to monitoring efforts on the State and federal level, McGowan is seeking more immediate measures.
“We’re looking at what programs we can turn on in the next couple days to bring relief to our businesses as quickly as possible, and we are going to be presenting a package within the next couple days to give the mayor options and get this money out the door as quickly as possible.”
The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development is asking businesses impacted by statewide shutdowns to share those issues. They cite economic injury, supply chain, workforce, business and visitor travel, and remote work capabilities as some challenges businesses might be facing.
The city has already taken some steps to contain the spread of the virus, including asking all employees who can to work from home. The city opened an Emergency Operations Center at the police department over the weekend to coordinate the response and to ensure that essential services such as electric and water service, street maintenance, and emergency fire and police services aren’t disrupted.
“We have been trying to signal that major changes were coming here to Burlington, the virus is here in Chittenden County, it is going to disrupt the economy and going to disrupt lives, I would hope today’s announcement is not a surprise to anyone, but we have been working to avoid that,” Weinberger said.