Vermont closes bars, bans gatherings among households

Associated Press

(AP) After Vermont saw its highest daily number of coronavirus cases this week, Gov. Phil Scott announced new restrictions on social gatherings on Friday, closing bars and clubs and banning multiple household gatherings, both inside and out.
"We're definitely moving in the wrong direction," Scott said during his bi-weekly virus briefing.
The recent increase in cases has come 12 days after Halloween, when people gathered for parties, the Republican governor said. "And though we've been warning against these activities for weeks they're still happening," he said.
Many of the state's clusters and outbreaks are traced back to private gatherings such as baby showers, tailgate parties, deer camps and barbecues "where multiple households are getting together and not wearing masks or staying physically separated for long periods of time," he said.
Under the new restrictions effective at 10 p.m. on Saturday, bars and social clubs will be closed to in-person service but may offer take-out. Restaurants may stay open, but must close to in-person service by 10 p.m. each night. The state is also requiring restaurants, gyms, museums, and other establishments to keep a daily log of visitors.
In other news related to the coronavirus in Vermont on Friday:
The state of Vermont has extended the deadline for employers of people who came in direct contact with the public during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for hazard pay for those workers.
The extension from Friday to next Wednesday by Michael Pieciak, Vermont's Financial Regulation commissioner who has been overseeing the program, is to give employers more time to apply.
"That grant is a big deal," state Sen. Chris Pearson said during a Thursday news conference in Burlington. "That is paying off your car, back rent, utilities, etc. That is really important and a small token of our ability to thank tens of thousands of employees."
An estimated 5,000 workers are eligible for the grant program that provides $1,200 to part-time employees and $2,000 to full-time staff who make less than $25 an hour. reports the state has already provided $58 million to Vermont front line workers.
"We expect that will actually benefit about 2,000 or so Vermont employees," state Sen. Tim Ashe said during the news conference. "However there remain a number of large multi-state companies who for reasons best explained by them have not stepped up to apply on behalf of their employees."