Latest News for Small Vermont Businesses on COVID-19: Hospitality Update

Date: June 01, 2020

State-specific information with updates

6/6

New Guidance Affecting Travel and Hospitality 

Governor Phil Scott announced the reopening of indoor dining and an easing of travel restrictions. Starting Monday June 8, interstate travel to and from New England and New York counties with fewer than 400 COVID-19 cases is permitted without quarantine requirements. Effective June 15 travelers may complete quarantine requirements in their home state before entering Vermont. Here is an updating map from the state of nearby states and cases.

Lodging operations may increase occupancy limits to 50% or a total of 25 guests and staff, whichever is greater. Indoor dining will be permitted beginning June 8 with 25% occupancy limits along with social distancing and health and safety. Click here for the guidance. 

Vermont Buy Local Stimulus Program

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development seeks innovative strategies, programs and/or products from companies to stimulate and incentivize local spending and support to Vermont businesses disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can learn more about the program here. 

Farming

Last week the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets released new guidance for pick-your-own operations. You can read more about that here. 

Gov. Scott announces openings of gyms, fitness centers, nail salons, spas, tatoo parlors, and home cleaning services: 

Governor Phil Scott today Friday the resumption of additional close contact businesses, dental procedures, businesses that require work in the home, and of limited overnight youth summer camp programming. As state modeling continues to indicate a low number of COVID-19 cases, he also increased the size of social gatherings.

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) has issued health and safety requirements and procedures for the resumption of close contact businesses such as gyms, fitness centers, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors, as well as cleaning services and other businesses that require home visits, beginning on June 1. Additionally, overnight youth summer camp programming can resume in a limited capacity and with strict safety and travel procedures, beginning June 7. Reopening of these businesses is dependent on established occupancy limits and physical distancing requirements, as well as health, sanitation and training measures, which can be found at accd.vermont.gov.

Addendum 16, signed by Governor Scott today, also allows social gatherings of 25 people or less, effective June 1, though existing occupancy limits for operations including retail, recreation, dining, worship and event spaces remain in place.

And the Vermont Department of Health has issued guidance allowing for some additional dental procedures, allowing for aerosol-generating procedures in compliance with CDC and Health Department safety standards and precautions.

To view the ACCD’s specific safety guidelines and protocols for businesses, as well as additional resources, visit accd.vermont.gov.

To view the Health Department’s latest dental procedure guidance, visit https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-health-care-professionals.

To view the Addendum 16 to Executive Order 01-20, visit https://governor.vermont.gov/content/addendum-16-executive-order-01-20

For more information on:

  1. COVID-19 health information, guidance and case data, visit www.healthvermont.gov/covid19.
  2. The Governor’s actions, visit governor.vermont.gov/covid19response.
  3. The state’s modeling, visit dfr.vermont.gov/about-us/covid-19/modeling.

 

 

Non-Essential Retail Guidance Announced

ACCD has released updated guidance for non-essential retail and drive-in operations. This guidance, developed with the Department of Health and Department of Public Safety, goes into effect May 18, 2020 and includes reopening retail operations in a limited capacity with mandatory health and safety requirements. The Agency has provided new signage for retailers to post.

Lodging Reservations Update

ACCD has released additional guidance for lodging reservations between May 15 and June 15, 2020 at hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, short term rentals, and all public and private camping facilities and RV parks. All lodging properties must remain closed per existing orders (including the relevant exemptions) and should cancel reservations between May 15, 2020 and May 22, 2020. All reservations from out-of-state guests who cannot first meet the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements must also be cancelled through June 15, 2020.

VtSBDC Virtual Town Hall on Small Business Recovery

ACCD and the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) will host a virtual town hall for small business owners on Friday, May 15th at 9:30am. State Director Linda Rossi and Area Business Advisor and Disaster Recovery Specialist Debra Boudrieau will walk business owners through VtSBDC’s COVID-19 Recovery Roadmap designed to aid businesses’ individual response to COVID-19 and to develop specific action steps.

VDOL Virtual Town Hall on Employee Health & Safety

The Department of Labor will host a virtual town hall for workers and employers on Thursday, May 14th at 3:30pm about VOSHA and CDC guidance to protect Vermont workers as workplaces open, including training materials developed by VOSHA. The session will be recorded and available for viewing afterward.

Reimagining the Role of Arts Organizations

The Community Engagement Lab is offering a series of forums for artists, instructors, and arts organizations to explore how arts organizations can reestablish themselves in and after the pandemic. The forums will be open to the public and will feature panels of artists and arts leaders in dialogue about the challenges and opportunities facing the arts field.

Business Impact

ACCD wants to hear from all Vermont businesses impacted by the response to the COVID-19 virus. Please share these impacts via the ACCD Business Impact Form, which will help us assess the full impact as we work toward solutions.

Governor Phil Scott announces plan to reopen retail

Yesterday, Governor Phil Scott announced that retail operations can begin reopening on Monday, May 18. The departments of Public Safety and Health, and the Agency for Commerce and Community Development will develop and release guidance this week on how that phased in restart will work. Stores will be required to follow all health and safety guidelines and will need to limit the number of people in the store to 25% of a store’s maximum legal capacity.

Gov. Phil Scott  order certain to open more businesses

In a new order on Friday, May 1, Gov. Scott said outdoor businesses such as construction and landscaping companies, manufacturers, and distribution operations can have 10 people working at a time. These employers can then return to full operation May 11 if they complete a training program and adopt a series of preventative measures. 

Companies that return to full operation will need to comply requirements such as health training, make good faith efforts to secure thermometers to perform temperature checks on employees prior to the start of each shift, and designate on-site health officers charged with ensuring that protocols are being followed, according to Friday’s order.

The order also requires public transportation employees and travelers to now wear cloth masks at all times.


4/25

Updated Phased Restart Permits Larger Crews, Outdoor Retail

Today Governor Scott issued Addendum 11 to the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order, advancing the phased restart of business in the state, in accordance with mandatory health and safety measures. These measures include closing all common areas, employees completing health training, screening employees when they arrive, and appointing a safety officer.

Updated guidance for outdoor businesses, construction, retail, manufacturing operations, as well as libraries and farmers markets is outlined in ACCD Secretary Lindsay Kurrle’s Memorandum to Businesses and Employers with additional information available in our online sector guidance

Business Impact

ACCD wants to hear from all Vermont businesses impacted by the response to the COVID-19 virus. Please share these impacts via the ACCD Business Impact Form, which will help us assess the full impact as we work toward solutions.

4/23 Self-employed unemployment benefits

Vermont is now allowing self-employed and independent contractors apply for unemployment benefits at this website:

https://labor.vermont.gov/PUA

4/17

GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT OUTLINES PRINCIPLES AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS FOR A PHASED RESTART OF VERMONT ECONOMY

The state’s latest modeling shows the growth rate in new COVID-19 cases has averaged below 4% for the last 12 days, the rate at which cases double has slowed dramatically, and the number of people requiring hospitalizations remains stable. 

The Stay Home Safe order remains in effect. But Governor Phil Scott 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. 

There will soon be guidance for retailers to allow additional operations using delivery and curbside service

There will be outlines safety requirements to ensure continued social distancing, hygiene and disinfection

 

 

 

The Governor also outlined five principles, developed in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Health, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), ACCD and others, which will guide the state’s Restart Vermont planning and decision-making process. They are:

  • Keep our eyes on the data: The administration will continue to be guided by data and modeling, and track any changes to case trends, infection and death rates.
  • Maintain health care readiness: The administration will continue monitoring and maintaining the state stockpile and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing materials to ensure it continues meeting the needs of the healthcare system and workers. Additionally, the state will continue to monitor available beds and ventilators, and make purchases as necessary, to ensure capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.
  • Increase testing and tracing: The state currently has a robust testing approach but will continue to work to make testing more widely available and strengthen the epidemiology and contact tracing rapid response teams.
  • Work Smarter & Work Safer: ACCD’s RestartVT Team will work with the Health Department and the SEOC to help businesses develop “COVID-19 Operations Plans,” which will include sector strategies for phased opening, including worker and customer protections, and training and monitoring procedures.
  • Play Smarter, Play Safer: The RestartVT Team will also evaluate how to reopen outdoor recreation, retail, restaurants and bars, travel and other activities, focusing on the conditions needed to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.

 

 

The administration will continue to update the public on the RestartVT planning process as details and next steps are determined.

 

 

4/10

Stay Home, Stay Safe Order Extended to May 15

Today Governor Scott issued Addendum 9 to the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order, which extends the original state of emergency to remain in effect until May 15. This extension applies to all directives and addenda issued previously. Governor Scott and the Department of Health continue to use data and trend analysis to determine the length of the order.  Today, the latest trend data was released.

Lodging Reservations OK after June 15

Addendum 9 allows lodging establishments to begin taking future reservations again. Effective immediately, lodging operators can accept reservations for stays and events occurring on June 15 or later, although they could be cancelled at a future date, pending any extension or amendment to the Stay Home, Stay Safe order.

Reservations for arrivals between now and May 15 need to be cancelled. Existing reservations for arrivals between May 15 and June 15 may remain, pending any extension or amendment to the Stay Home, Stay Safe order.

New Real Estate Sector Guidance

Addendum 9 also clarifies that existing real estate sales and brokerage guidance applies to all real estate sales, including those for sale by owner. Online real estate sites are required to post a prominent notice on their web platforms advising potential sellers and purchasers that all in-person real estate transactions are temporarily suspended. Real estate functions that can be conducted online, by phone or email may continue

Motor Vehicle Inspection Deadline Extended

New guidance from the Governor today directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to extend motor vehicle inspections due in April—those with a green 4 sticker—for up to 60 days.

New Unemployment Insurance Virtual Town Halls Announced

Today the Vermont Department of Labor announced that it will hold daily virtual town hall events. Town halls for employers will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 pm. Town halls for employees will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 2 pm. For a listing of all events visit the Department of Labor calendar. All virtual events will be recorded and accessible on the VDOL website, as well as on their YouTube Channel

4/8 Virtual Town Hall for Business and Employees

The Vermont Department of Labor (VT DOL) is hosting a series of Virtual Town Hall events for the foreseeable future to help answer employer and employee questions related to COVID-19 benefits and resources. These events are available for any employer or employee in the State of Vermont looking for more information about labor related topics. A portion of each event will allow for Q&A with the presenters. If you are unable to view any of the events, a recording will be created by VT DOL and made available for viewing after the event on their website.

Click HERE for the VT DOL calendar of events to see when the next Town Hall will take place and what topics will be covered and click on PAST events to listen to the recorded version of the Town Hall.

Outdoor Recreation and COVID-19

State and municipal agencies are working to balance the requirements of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order with Vermonters’ need for exercise and stress relief by keeping trails, parks, and other public outdoor spaces open for appropriate public use. The Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation has developed tips for how to locally and stay safe outdoors during this public health emergency.

Vermont Qualifies for Federal Public Assistance

Gov. Phil Scott’s request for federal public assistance for the state and all towns for costs incurred in the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been approved.

State and local governments and some nonprofits, including hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, and laboratories, will get 75% reimbursement for emergency spending, such as emergency medical care, emergency sheltering,Gov. Phil Scott’s request for federal public assistance for the state and all towns for costs incurred in the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been approved.

State and local governments and some nonprofits, including hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, and laboratories, will get 75% reimbursement for emergency spending, such as emergency medical care, emergency sheltering

Business Impact

ACCD wants to hear from all Vermont businesses impacted by the response to the COVID-19 virus. Please share these impacts via the ACCD Business Impact Form, which will help us assess the full impact as we work toward solutions.

3/31 

Business Definition in Vermont  Governor Phil Scott’s Executive Order of “Critical to Public Health and Safety, Economic and National Security”

If you have questions about whether your business meet the definition of “critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security” as per Governor Scott’s Executive Order, please review our Stay Home, Stay Safe FAQs and Sector Specific Guidance.

 

3/26

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development has issued guidance on the definition of “essential businesses” related to Gov Scott’s latest “Stay at Home and Stay Safe” order in the update below. 

Please click on this link for more information: 

https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19-guidance/stay-home-stay-safe-business-faqs?wpmobileexternal=true

There is also a Frequently Asked Questions Page available here:

https://mailchi.mp/9fd1bf6632fe/covid-19-update-2020-03-3200639?e=37ff2f11df

 

3/24

GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT ISSUES A “STAY HOME, STAY SAFE” ORDER, DIRECTS ADDITIONAL CLOSURES

The following is the news release from the Governor’s office (businesses info is in bold):

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and directed the closure of in-person operations for all non-essential businesses.

These restrictive measures are in place to minimize all unnecessary activities outside the home to slow the spread of this virus and protect the public. These actions were implemented in consultation with the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health and his evaluation of the latest data.

“I want to be very clear about this: We need everyone to limit activities outside of the home and to practice social distancing at all times to slow the spread of this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus,” said Governor Phil Scott. “We all must do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 to minimize infections – particularly for those who are elderly or have underlying chronic health conditions – and prevent it from overwhelming our healthcare facilities. The more Vermonters who take this seriously and stay home, the faster we can return to normal.”

The Governor’s order directs Vermonters to stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons, critical to health and safety. If leaving the home, Vermonters should adhere to social distancing policies, including remaining six feet from others (except for those with whom they share a home) and thoroughly and regularly washing hands.

Effective March 25, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., all businesses and not-for-profit entities not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery only, can continue. 

The Order provides exemptions for businesses and entities providing services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. This includes – but is not limited to – health care operations; retail serving essential human needs, like grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores; fuel products and supply; news media; maintenance of critical infrastructure; and transportation and critical manufacturing sectors. For a full list, please review the order at https://governor.vermont.gov/content/addendum-6-executive-order-01-20.

All exempt entities must still strictly adhere to CDC and Vermont Department of Health guidance to ensure social distancing and proper hygiene and disinfecting is occurring. All exempt entities conducting retail operations should also facilitate curbside pick-up or delivery to the extent possible.

“I fully recognize the emotional, financial and economic impact of these decisions, but based on the best science we have available, these measures are necessary,” said Governor Scott. “I need all Vermonters to understand that the more quickly and closely we follow these stay-at-home measures, the faster and safer we can get through this and get our daily lives, and our economy, moving again. I have tremendous faith in Vermonters and our ability to follow these guidelines, to save lives and support each other throughout – even as we are physical separated.”

Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency on March 13, and has since directed a number of mitigation strategies in order to reduce close contact among individuals, including visitor restrictions for long-term care facilities and other health facilities; the closure of bars and restaurants, schools and day care centers and close contact businesses; limiting the size of mass gatherings; postponing all non-essential medical procedures; and ordering all businesses to implement telecommuting wherever possible.

The Stay Home, Stay Safe order will be in effect until April 15, 2020, though may be extended or shortened as needed. For full details, please click here to read the full addendum.

Commercial entities, non-profits, employers and others with questions about acceptable continuation of business operations should contact the Agency of Commerce and Community Development via this online form: https://bit.ly/covid-vt-business-operations.

For the latest information and guidance relating to Vermont’s COVID-19 response, visit http://www.healthvermont.gov/covid19.

3/23 GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT ANNOUNCES NEW COVID-19 MITIGATION MEASURES

Orders Businesses and Non-Profits to Implement Work from Home Procedures

Governor Phil Scott today announced additional mitigation measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In consultation with the Department of Health, Governor Scott has directed all businesses and not-for-profit entities – to the maximum extent possible – to put into place telecommuting or work-from-home procedures, no later than 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 23.

This order follows further reductions to the allowable size of non-essential mass gatherings to no more than 10 people and the closure of all close-contact businesses, both announced Saturday, March 21.

At this time, any entities not required to close under a previous order, or unable to implement work-from-home procedures, must implement – and publicly post – CDC and the Vermont Department of Health guidance related to COVID-19, including:

  • Maintaining a distance of six feet between people;
  • Ensuring employees practice appropriate hygiene measures, including regular, thorough handwashing;
  • Ensuring that employees who are sick remain home; and
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The Governor has also said Vermonters should prepare for a forthcoming announcement on further restrictions and a stay-at-home directive.

Vermont Tax Deadline Relief

The Department of Taxes today announced relief for businesses who owe Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax until further notice.  Taxpayers who are unable to meet the March 25th and April 25th deadlines on these taxes due to COVID-19 mitigation steps, will not be charged any penalty or interest for late submissions of these taxes.

Vermonters are advised as well that income tax filing due dates for the following taxes have been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020:

  • Vermont personal income tax
  • Vermont Homestead Declaration and Property Tax Claims
  • Corporate income tax
  • Fiduciary income tax

This means taxpayers can file and pay these taxes on or before July 15, 2020 without any penalty or interest. This includes any tax year 2020 estimated payments that were due for these taxes on April 15th, 2020. Although the filing deadline has moved, Vermonters can file their returns and claims any time before July 15. Anyone expecting a refund is encouraged to do so.

For more information visit https://tax.vermont.gov/coronavirus.

3/21 Governor Phil Scott on Saturday extended an earlier executive order closing exercise facilities, hair salons, spas and tattoo parlors by 8 pm on March 23. The order also limits non-essential gatherings to no more than 10 people at once in a single space.

For more information click here to read his news release

 

NFIB Vermont is communicating with Vermont administrative officials and officials of each of the congressional offices (Leahy, Sanders and Welch) on a regular basis. NFIB will continue to do our best to provide you, to the best of our ability, with as complete a list of resources as they become available. Please check back here for updates.

VT Department of Labor Resources:

VT Agency of Commerce & Community Development Resources:

  • Agency of Commerce has a newsletter they will be sent to businesses as new information becomes available. To subscribe visit this link: https://accd.vermont.gov/

VT Department of Health

Watch for Additional Resources from the following organizations:

 

3/18/2020 Governor Scott’s Speech on COVID-19 contained the following information related to small businesses To see the full transcript, CLICK HERE.

“On Friday, to act on this strategy, I declared a State of Emergency and we’ve put in place a wide range of measures to slow this pandemic. From limiting public gatherings and restricting visitors at long-term care facilities and hospitals to banning state employee work travel, encouraging and facilitating telework, extending unemployment benefits to those who have to self-isolate and much more.

“Sunday, I ordered the dismissal of preK-12 schools which began today. With it came the challenge of coming up with a continuity of education plan so kids can continue to learn.

“Monday, I ordered the closure of bars and restaurants statewide though they can still offer takeout.

“And yesterday, I directed the closure of licensed child care centers across the state, however, I’ve asked centers and schools to provide child care services for those deemed essential personnel. This includes healthcare and public health workers, first responders and those involved in our State Emergency Operations Centers and many others—because we may need to add to this list.”

3/16/2020 Information on public gathering size and restrictions for businesses:

Link to News Release from Governor Phil Scott: https://governor.vermont.gov/press-release/governor-phil-scott-announces-new-guidance-covid-19-community-mitigation-measures

New guidance restricts the size of mass gatherings to the lesser of 50 people or 50% of the occupancy of a facility. This restriction applies to all social, recreational or entertainment activities, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theater, gymnasium, fitness center, library or any other confined indoor or confined outdoor space. 

The Governor is also ordering the closure of all bars and restaurants statewide. Establishments can continue to offer food takeout and delivery service. This measure is effective beginning 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 and is in effect until April 6, though this could be extended.

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