News: Plastic Bag Ban Starts, Guidance on COVID-Positive Employees and More

Date: June 29, 2020

The state Legislature will return on August 29

The Vermont General Assembly passed a temporary budget for a three-month period beginning July first and will return later in the summer to work on the remaining three quarters after they have a better understanding the impact of COVID-19 is having on the state budget. NFIB will keep you posted on that an any public policy changes.

Laws that go into effect on July 1 that may impact your business

Single use plastic bag ban goes into effect July 1:

  • Stores and food establishments can no longer provide single-use carryout plastic bags or expanded polystyrene (styrofoam carry-out containers, cups, etc.).
  • Stores and food establishments will be required to charge not less than 10 cents for a paper bag with a basis weight of more than 30 pounds or less and, generally, paper bags shorter than 10 inches.
  • Stores with delis or food establishments cannot provide plastic stirrers.
  • Stores with delis or food establishments will be banned from providing a plastic straw unless a customer asks for one.
  • If you purchased plastic bags prior to May 15, 2019, you are able to continue to use these bags until July 1, 2021.

Certain plastic and/or paper bags are exempt from being banned or charged for:

  • Bags provided by a pharmacy, dry cleaner, or flower shop to cover flowers.
  • Bags used to package loose items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, bakery items, candy, cards, small hardware items, or to wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish.

Certain expanded polystyrene foodservice products are exempt from the ban including:

  • Food or beverage that have been packaged outside the state (food being shipped from out-of-state manufacturers that use expanded polystyrene).
  • Products used to package raw, uncooked, or butchered meat, fish, poultry, or seafood.

Reusable Bags
There is no ban on reusable bags. Reusable bags have been and will continue to be used at the discretion of the business owner. Due to COVID-19, at your discretion, you may decide not to allow them in your business.

Capacity and Gathering Size Increases for Hospitality Sector and Events
ACCD has updated its Drive-in Operation guidance (Section 5.2) to make it clear that firework displays and parades can move forward as drive-in viewing events. Sample plans from Vermont towns for safe fireworks displays are now available. As a reminder – effective Friday, June 26 – arts, culture, and entertainment venues, as well as restaurants, can expand capacity for events and dining to 50% of approved occupancy size, with new maximum gathering sizes of 75 people for indoor events and 150 people for outdoor events.

Guidance for Employers Regarding an Employee Testing Positive for COVID-19
Businesses should be prepared in the event that an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Refer to guidance from the Department of Health to find information that includes:

  • Information employers can begin collecting right away upon learning that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, even before hearing from the Department of Health.
  • When employees with COVID-19 and close contacts can return to work.
  • Resources and support for employees.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting resources.

State Travel Map Expanded
As state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue to support reopening, Governor Phil Scott announced he will expand the number of states covered under Vermont’s county-by-county quarantine-free travel policy. This allows quarantine-free direct travel from designated counties with less than 400 active cases of COVID-19 per one million residents. Effective July 1, 2020, this policy will be expanded to counties in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, DC, and West Virginia.

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