BURLINGTON, Vt. – Four Burlington bars have received written warnings from the city for violating the state’s COVID-19 safety guidelines after community members raised concerns about large crowds over the weekend.
“Last weekend, there was a lot of activity happening in the Burlington bars,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger said. “We got calls in the Mayor’s office about it, the Governor was notified, and there were many Burlingtonians who were rightly concerned about what they saw.”
Vermont’s current regulations, which went into effect June 26, set an occupancy limit for bars, restaurants and other venues of 50 percent of capacity or one person per 100 square feet of customer space.
Weinberger emphasized that packed bars are exactly the kind of environment responsible for COVID-19 spikes in other states. And, he said, if regulations continue to go be flouted, the reopening of nightlife in the Queen City might be a short-lived
“If the bars are not following the rules, if we are having further spreading of the virus within them, I’m going to take action,” Weinberger said. “We will do what we need to do to protect the health of our community.”
As COVID-19 cases rise nationwide, local health officials are urging Vermonters to stay vigilant. UVM Medical Center President Dr. Stephen Leffler said Vermont has handled outbreaks well, citing the early June outbreak in Winooski. He added that Vermont will have to be prepared for out-of-state outbreaks to make their way in.
“Some of those people are going to travel, some of them are going to be asymptomatic, and so this will impact us somewhere down the road,” Dr. Leffler said. “I do think that our strategy and the coordinated response Vermont has had to this point bears well for us in the future.”
This year’s annual July 3 Fireworks Spectacular on the Burlington Waterfront was canceled weeks ago. The annual event is typically aired live on Local 22 & Local 44, but this year the stations will be re-airing last year’s fireworks. It will also be streamed at MyChamplainValley.com.
The city, meanwhile, is organizing a safer celebration, and is encouraging residents to get outside at 7:30 on July 3 and “make noise” together.
“Whether that’s an instrument, ringing a bell or singing to connect again as a community,” said Parks Director Cindi Wight. “It’s a little bit of a quieter time this year, a reflective time, but we also don’t want to lose the fact that it’s a wonderful time to get together as a community.”
Vote early or by mail
Vermonters will head to the polls on August 11 to vote in the Gubernatorial Primary, drawing concerns about the potential for large crowds gathering in confined spacea. City officials are encouraging Burlington residents to vote by mail or vote early.
Early voting is already underway, and a postcard with details on how to vote safely is in the process of being sent to all registered voters.