Vermont is requiring a 14-day quarantine for every person coming to Vermont, or back to Vermont, for nonessential travel.
The quarantine can be cut in half, to seven days, if the person tests negative for COVID-19.
Gov. Phil Scott announced the new measure to combat the pandemic at a press conference Tuesday amid a surge in COVID cases and multiple outbreaks spreading across the state.
Vermont is hitting case numbers not seen since the pandemic started in the spring. The state reported 46 cases and 12 hospitalizations Tuesday, and announced another death from the virus, the state’s first since July.
The state had been relying on a travel map — people from counties with high COVID-19 caseloads had to quarantine, while others did not.
“When you consider the amount of red we’re seeing in the Northeast — and that is not likely to improve for a few weeks — it only makes sense to simplify the policy in order to ensure better compliance,” Scott said. “The bottom line is, if you don’t need to travel right now, don’t.”
Highlighting the dire situation in surrounding counties and nationwide, officials showed the latest national travel map — a “sea of red” that demonstrates the need for more caution, said Dr. Mark Levine, head of the Department of Health.
“The fact is our entire region is in danger from the surge of COVID cases happening right now; it’s very clear that things will not improve anytime soon,” Levine said.
The state predicts a 79 percent rise in cases nationally and a 105 percent rise in cases in the Northeast in the next six weeks, according to forecasts presented by Mike Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation.
Scott said Vermont’s history proves it can change its trajectory with the virus. “But we’ll need to dig deep and double our efforts so we can protect the most vulnerable and keep our schools open, and our businesses.”
Scott also reminded Vermonters to follow important aspects of the state’s social distancing guidelines: Wear masks, limit gathering sizes and avoid unnecessary travel, including for the coming holidays.
He had a message to skeptics. “Simply refusing to do your part is dangerous to the rest of us,” he said.