This is an update on where the State response to COVID-19 stands. Your local legislators are working closely together as we navigate this unprecedented public health crisis. We recognize how stressful this moment is, and we appreciate everyone who has reached out with feedback about Vermont’s statewide response. If you want to get in touch, you can reach me at [email protected] or by phone at (802) 734-8841. To keep up with breaking updates, “like” my Facebook page to get updates.
On March 13, the House and Senate temporarily suspended in-person meetings through March 24. Systems have been established for remote work. Online legislative hearings began last week, and the House and Senate are working with the Administration to pass a relief package this coming week.
Both Rep. Houghton and I have been in touch with local leaders and school officials as our community has adjusted to actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Our goal is to keep everyone updated. Information is moving quickly during this time. On March 20, Rep. Houghton provided resources for businesses navigating temporary closure and changes in practice. Below are new updates concerning businesses and child care. We will share more as things proceed.
In addition to the closure of eat-in restaurants and bars (which went into effect on March 17) the Governor has directed the closure of all close-contact businesses no later than 8:00pm on March 23. This includes all gyms, exercise facilities, hair salons, nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlors. The goal of the order is to limit community spread of COVID-19.
All other businesses not named may remain open, but must work to implement CDC and the Vermont Department of Health guidance related to COVID-19. This includes the Governor’s March 21 order to limit gatherings to 10 or fewer individuals. Businesses must also ensure 6ft social distancing is occuring, that employees practice appropriate hygiene measures, and that sick employees remain home.
Daily updates are being compiled by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Information is sorted in chronological order at the following website: https://accd.vermont.gov/about-us/disaster-planning/covid-19-guidance-vermont-businesses
Child Care Update:
The Governor ordered closure of schools and child care centers by March 18. Child care centers caring for the children of “essential” personnel were authorized to remain open. “Essential” is defined for a number of workers, including non-remote educators; health care providers; pharmacy staff; law enforcement; firefighters and first responders; Vermont National Guard personnel; utility workers, and others. A full list (which is being revised and updated regularly) is here: https://vem.vermont.gov/sites/demhs/files/Essential%20Persons_03182020.pdf
On March 21, the Administration approved a COVID-19 Child Care Stabilization Payment program to support child care programs financially whose enrolled families are unable to afford paying tuition or co-payments during this closure period. We expect guidance on this process very soon and will share it when it is available.
COVID-19 is testing our nation, states, and communities. This is an extraordinary moment, and many are fearful. At the same time, Essex Junction neighbors are stepping forward with acts of kindness and generosity. We will get through this together. For now, please follow updates on https://www.healthvermont.gov/ and be in touch if you have questions.
Rep. Dylan Giambatista