Scott proposes special legislative session to allow local mask mandates

Vermont

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (Credit: WFFF/WVNY)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Gov. Phil Scott has proposed that the Legislature hold a special session to grant communities the authority to issue temporary indoor mask mandates as legislative leadership calls for him to do more about the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Scott has said he will not reimpose a state of emergency that would authorize him to restore a statewide mask mandate, saying executive powers should be used judiciously. He said that he will continue to encourage the use of masks indoors and that Vermonters must do their part to get vaccinated, receive boosters and protect the elderly who are most at risk.

“I offer this as a compromise — not because I believe mandates are the right approach under current circumstances,” the Republican governor said in a letter to legislative leadership Monday. “Therefore, I want to be very clear, should the Legislature propose any additional restrictions or mandates on a statewide or municipal basis, I will not support them.”

House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint, both Democrats, said in a written statement that they “are deeply disappointed that there is not a broader approach,” as Vermont has one of the highest case rates in the country.

“If it takes the legislature reconvening to step in on behalf of Vermonters, we are more than happy to provide a tool to help mitigate the spread of the virus in our communities,” they said.

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