State Officials Clarify Ban on Social Gatherings, Urge Vigilance

Heady Vermont Staff 20 Nov 2020

MONTPELIER — On Friday, Governor Phil Scott added further clarification to the state’s prohibition of social gatherings in the newest executive order. Under the order, state residents are not allowed to gather with people they don’t live with. This includes all inside and outside social, recreational and entertainment gatherings, and in public and private spaces.

Scott clarified that a Vermonter can take a walk with a friend or neighbor. Those who live alone are allowed to gather with one other household, and neighbors are also allowed to take a walk, hike, or bike with one trusted friend. And, of course, people should keep their distance and wear masks.

When he announced the gathering ban last week, the governor faced questions about why walks with neighbors were banned while indoor dining and gyms remained open. Scott said patronizing those businesses, which have instituted health precautions, “is much different from you going out with your neighbor for an hour or two when you don’t know what your neighbor has done.”

There is an exception for people who live alone. They may gather with people who live in one other household. Gov. Scott announced additional allowances Friday:    

  • People can take in and shelter those from another household who are living in a dangerous, unhealthy or otherwise unsafe situation.  
  • You can do outdoor fitness activities with one other person from another household. However, both of you must stay at least 6 feet away from each other and wear a mask at all times. For example, you can bike, hike, walk or run with one of your neighbors.  

“We need people to limit their contacts with others. While I know this is hard, and after eight months people think they’ve figured out how to get together with others … that’s just not the case,” Scott said.

“With a little patience, and a lot of compliance, I am hopeful we can make a difference.”

As daily cases of COVID-19 continue to reach new heights, the goal of the restrictions is to curb community spread and avoid the closure of workplaces and schools. State leaders remain optimistic that if Vermonters follow the guidance and avoid gatherings this holiday season, those goals can be accomplished.

“With a little patience and a lot of compliance, I’m hopeful that we can make a real difference. We’ve done it before and we can certainly do it again,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, MD.

“Avoiding social gatherings, limiting non-essential travel, quarantining when necessary, and taking prevention steps will help stem this rising tide — but only if Vermonters follow the guidance,” Dr. Levine said. “It’s too soon to see the impact… But with a little patience, and a lot of compliance, I am hopeful we can make a difference.”  

What You Need to Know Now 

Vermont is seeing a surge in cases of COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know now to help stop the spread:    

  • Do not get together or socialize with anyone you don’t live with. There is an exception for those who live alone — they may gather with members of their immediate family. 
  • Avoid traveling when possible, even within Vermont. Anyone who does travel to or from Vermont must quarantine. The only exception is for essential travel
  • Wear a mask  
  • If you’re sick, stay home.  
  • Get tested if you have any symptoms, are a close contact of a case, or have been at a social gathering or other risky situation.  
  • Get your flu shot! Stay as healthy as you can!  

New on  

Get the latest news and updates on Health’s COVID-19 response. Sign up for the Vermont Department of Health’s new Weekly COVID-19 Update Email. It will be sent every Friday. 

Current COVID-19 Activity in Vermont  

As of 12 p.m. on November 20, 2020  

Description Number  

  • New cases* 146  
  • (3,459 total)  
  • Currently hospitalized 18  
  • Hospitalized in ICU 1  
  • Hospitalized under investigation 4  
  • Percent Positive (7-day average) 2%  
  • People tested 207,016  
  • Total tests 497,906  
  • Total people recovered 2,205  
  • Deaths+ 62  
  • Travelers monitored 221  
  • Contacts monitored 158  
  • People completed monitoring 10,778  

* Includes testing conducted at the Health Department Laboratory, commercial labs and  other public health labs. 

+ Death occurring in persons known to have COVID-19. Death certificate may be pending.

Hospitalization data is provided by the Vermont Healthcare Emergency Preparedness  Coalition and is based on hospitals updating this information. 

Find more Vermont Department of Health COVID-19 data at:  

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