Bars and restaurants with counter seating will be allowed to serve customers, under new guidelines announced by Gov. Phil Scott, and lodging facilities can open to 100 percent capacity.

Bars will be required to maintain a 6-foot separation between customers and have barriers in place between servers and customers.

Lodging facilities can open to full capacity, a move Scott said was critical as fall foliage season approaches. Visitors who come from areas with a low rate of cases will not be required to follow a 14-day quarantine, unlike others who come from higher-rate areas.

“Now, we’re entering fall foliage. So we will be seeing more visitors. But as Dr. Fauci said, we’re starting from a really good place,” Scott said, referring to comments last week from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who appeared at Scott’s press conference and praised Vermont’s efforts in combating the coronavirus.

Vermont has the lowest infection rate of any state in the country.

Administration officials have also expanded the number of counties in the region where people could visit without a quarantine and that 7.4 million could come, compared to 5.5 million eligible last week.

Tourism has tanked during the pandemic, and Scott made clear the latest effort to allow more visitors was a last opportunity for lodging establishments before a lull in October and November before ski season starts.

“I know this is not enough to soften the economic blow to our hospitality sector,” Scott said.

The governor said he understood some Vermonters might worry with more out-of-state visitors arriving, but pointed to the state’s infection rate, which has stayed low despite campgrounds, marinas and cottages operating at full capacity.

Hotels, inns and lodging establishments have been allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity since June.

Help for restaurants

Officials said help was available for businesses in reconfiguring their dining or drinking establishments to comply with the guidelines.

Dr. Mark Levine, the health commissioner, stressed people had to follow social distancing and other rules to make the reopening of bars and increased capacity of lodging establishments a success.

“The key here, whether we’re talking about a lodging establishment or a bar, is to prevent milling around, prevent a breakdown in social distancing, and prevent crowding,” he said.

Levine warned people will be moving indoors more soon as the weather gets colder and reiterated the message Fauci delivered earlier this week: stay vigilant.

Vermont has had a total of 1,706 coronavirus cases with 58 deaths, none in the past 51 days, officials said.

— VTDigger

Reliable news and information is vitally important. Local advertising has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis but the Vermont Community Newspaper Group remains committed to its responsibility to serve its communities. Your communities. With some assistance from loyal readers, community organizations, foundations and other funders, we hope to keep reporters on the job keeping you informed. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our local journalism fund. Thank you for your support.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexual language.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be proactive. Use the "Report" link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.