Vermont opens beaches, pools and yard sales, clarifies hotel rules

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    Maeve Tufankjian, 6, of Norwich, Vt., and her mother Megan Bogonovich try out the cool water of Lake Morey before friends arrive for a playdate at the Fairlee Town Beach in Fairlee, Vt., on May 15, 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fairlee Selectboard will be deciding on Monday whether or not to reopen the beach this summer. "This is our place," Bogonovich said of spending time at the park. "I think we would come anyway." (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

Published: 5/19/2020 9:26:46 PM
Modified: 5/19/2020 9:26:40 PM

MONTPELIER — Yard sales received the go-ahead from state officials May 19, as long as groups stay under 10 and practice social distancing. Low-contact workers such as attorneys, accountants, and realtors are able to start working again immediately, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development declared.

The wide-ranging order released May 19 also opens swimming pools and beaches, although operators will be required to limit gatherings to 10 people or less and maintain strict sanitary practices.

And it clarifies a question that has come up frequently in discussions about lodging properties, which the governor announced last week will be allowed to open on a limited basis May 22. People who visit lodging properties from out of state must quarantine in Vermont before using a lodging property, campground or short-term rental — a directive that effectively limits stays at those properties to Vermonters or those who have been staying with family or at a second home.

Lodging properties are required to cancel reservations for other guests through June 15, “and may need to be cancelled beyond June 15,” according to a May 19 letter from the state’s tourism marketing department to lodging property owners.

Those that open are capped at 25% of capacity, and cannot offer dine-in service.

The lodging rules apply to hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, and short-term rentals like Airbnb. They also cover all public and private camping facilities and RV parks. Operators of lodging facilities must require guests to fill out a health questionnaire and keep a 30-day record of the forms with contact information so that state officials can carry out contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

“Preventing outbreaks and limiting the spread of COVID-19 is the only way to avoid future business and social disruption,” ACCD Commissioner Lindsay Kurrle said.

The ACCD developed its guidance with the state Department of Health and the Department of Public Safety, and it’s effective immediately, the ACCD said.

State Department of Health guidelines require employees to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others unless a translucent shield is present in a retail establishment. Businesses and nonprofit and government entities are permitted to require customers or clients to wear masks.

The change in guidance May 19 is a big change for lawyers, accountants, and others who were previously limited to working only one-on-one. The guidance also includes nonprofit workers and municipal workers. All of these workers should continue to work remotely whenever possible, the guidance said.

The yard sale guidance recommends that hosts and visitors wear face coverings, but includes no other information about masks. While Burlington and South Burlington have passed ordinances that require people to wear masks in shops, Gov. Phil Scott said May 13 that he is waiting for survey results from the Vermont Association of Retailers before deciding whether to require mask-wearing in public statewide. Scott said he expected that information to be available this week.

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