Madam President, Madam Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, members of the General Assembly, and fellow Vermonters:
It is our tradition at the opening of the legislative session to come together and chart our course for the work ahead.
Whether in times of peace or war, prosperity or depression, those who came before us felt the same hope and optimism we share today, ready to do the work to take on new problems and solve those that have eluded us for years.
I’m honored to speak with you tonight, to have earned your trust through challenging times and to serve as Governor of the state I love.
The past year has been tough on all of us. We’ve faced a global pandemic that’s tested us in ways we never imagined. We’ve confronted racial injustice in America that’s been ignored for far too long. We’ve seen the worst of our politics and from our politicians. There is no greater example than the rioters at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. As I said, it was a shocking attack on our democracy and make no mistake: President Trump is responsible for fanning these flames.
All this comes at a time when our country feels more polarized, more divided, than I can ever remember. But in Vermont and across the country, voters came out in record numbers and sent a clear message, calling for moderation and unity and for leaders to treat everyone with dignity and respect, to work with anyone of any party to best serve all Americans.
The challenges we face demand the very best of all of us, that we rise above the partisanship and division, the pettiness and political games, to commit to the tough work ahead, to get through this crisis safer and stronger, and to do it together.
Montpelier, Vt. – As the state continues its sustained efforts to encourage mask use as a tool to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable, Governor Phil Scott today announced strengthened mask requirements in public places and congregate settings.
“Based on national and regional data on how the virus is spreading – and rather than waiting like other states have – I feel we need to act now to protect our gains, which have allowed us to reopen much of our economy,” said Governor Scott. “That’s why today I signed an Order, which will strengthen our current mask mandates, so that we do not take steps backwards and we can stay open into the fall as people move more of their interactions indoors,” Governor Scott added.
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today signed an executive order to update and extend the State of Emergency in Vermont to July 15. The latest order reflects all current re-openings and eased restrictions, which have been underway since late April to account for the State’s low case counts and continued slow growth rate.
State data and modeling shows overall spread of COVID-19 continues to be limited, even as the state has seen an isolated outbreak with 84 related cases in the Winooski area.
Governor Scott also detailed how a robust testing and tracing program; better knowledge of the virus; greater public awareness of, and adherence to, preventive measures; health and safety requirements across sectors; and increased stock of critical healthcare supplies, the state is much better positioned to track, manage and box in outbreaks and slow spread, which is critical to managing this virus until there is a vaccine.
Montpelier, Vt. – As state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue to support reopening, Governor Phil Scott today announced the resumption of limited indoor seating at restaurants and bars and a data-driven approach to allow travel to and from designated areas without a 14-day quarantine requirement.
“One of the many things that Vermont is so well known for is our great local food and craft brews, so I know how important this sector is to our economy,” said Governor Scott. “I know we still have a very long way to go to help our restaurants get back on their feet but we’ve got to start somewhere and we’ll be able to build on this progress if our numbers continue to move in the right direction.”
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced the resumption of additional business operations, including outdoor seating at restaurants and bars, hair salons and barber shops and some additional health services.
“I believe these steps forward will be welcome news for many and because Vermonters are being smart to stay safe, our data continues to show we’re still moving in the right direction,” said Governor Scott. “As more Vermonters get back to work and there are more places to visit and meet with others, it is more important than ever to stay vigilant about your health and the health of others.”
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act.
The two-phase proposal, which is expected to be the first of multiple packages necessary to fully recover, will start with $310 million for immediate emergency relief to the most impacted sectors and businesses to be followed by $90 million in long-term recovery investments.
“The relief and recovery package we are proposing today, takes bold action to bring support to Vermonters in need, as we continue to manage this public health crisis and open the economy back up,” said Governor Scott. “We are looking to address the immediate cash needs of businesses so they can survive, while also laying the foundation for our economy to emerge stronger and thrive over the long term. These local businesses and their employees drive our economy, put food on the tables of Vermonters and help fund critical needs for families, public schools and so much more. We must step up and act quickly to help them survive this emergency and go on to thrive in the future.”
Montpelier, Vt. – As modeling indicates continued progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19, Governor Phil Scott today announced a third incremental, evidence-based step forward to put Vermonters back to work.
If able to comply with outlined safety measures, the Governor’s latest order expands on Addendum 10 and Addendum 11 to allow the following operations to operate:
Crews of 10 or fewer employees per location/job to perform outdoor work and construction work in unoccupied job sites. (Effective May 4)
Manufacturing and distribution operations may resume with a maximum of 10 employees in any location if they are low-density and ensure employees are always six feet apart. (Effective May 4)
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today outlined some additional openings as part of the phased restart of Vermont’s economy, introduced last week.
The Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect, but with modeling continuing to indicate Vermonters are significantly slowing the spread of the virus, the Administration is taking a cautious, incremental and evidence-based approach to putting Vermonters back to work.
Governor Scott has emphasized the need for continued – and even expanded – vigilance as the state implements its restart strategy, saying: “Restarting the economy requires each of us to take a lot of personal responsibility. Each and every one of us has to do our part to help prevent the spread and protect the vulnerable by adhering to all of the social distancing and public health guidance.”
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today outlined an approach for the phased restart of Vermont’s economy, emphasizing the state’s modeling indicates initial steps can be taken while the Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect.
To begin to execute this strategy, Governor Scott today signed an addendum to Executive Order 01-20, which – in order to start getting more Vermonters back to work – institutes new health and safety requirements and encourages the public to wear cloth face coverings.
It also directs the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to issue guidance authorizing outdoor businesses and construction operations with crews of two or less and some single-person low contact professional services, such as appraisers, attorneys, realtors and others, to operate if specified safety requirements can be met. These openings are effective April 20.
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today ordered additional restrictions on travelers arriving in Vermont and announced additional guidance for the lodging industry to enhance compliance with his Stay Home, Stay Safe order.
The measures under the Stay Home, Stay Safe order, effective March 25, were implemented in consultation with the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health to minimize all unnecessary activities outside the home to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect the public.
Governor Scott is taking additional action to encourage compliance with newly released CDC guidance around interstate travel from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which advised residents of those states to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days.
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today directed schools to remain dismissed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Districts will close schools for in-person instruction and be required to implement continuity of learning plans for remote learning. This extends the Governor’s previous directive dismissing PreK-12 schools from March 18 to April 6.
This decision was made in consultation with the Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Education in the continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. To minimize disruption to students’ learning, the Governor’s order directs school districts to come up with plans for distance learning by April 13.
GOVERNOR SCOTT: Mr. President, Madam Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the General Assembly, distinguished guests and fellow Vermonters:
I want to begin by thanking the people of Vermont for the opportunity to serve as Governor, and for their trust and support as we carry out the work ahead. It is the greatest honor of my life.