Vermont Department of Public Safety issues guidance on enforcement of executive orders related to COVID-19
Law enforcement relies on educating the public and receiving voluntary compliance as Vermonters unite to care for one another
The Vermont Department of Public Safety has issued guidance to local police departments regarding enforcement of Gov. Phil Scott’s executive orders related to COVID-19. Initially called “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” which was announced Tuesday, March 24, and effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, the order was relaxed to "Be Smart, Stay Safe" on Friday, May 15, 2020. The new order remains in effect until June 15.
DPS and the Vermont State Police — the largest law-enforcement agency in the state — continue to recommended to Vermont municipal leaders and law-enforcement executives that enforcement of executive orders be handled primarily through education and voluntary compliance.
“I have tremendous faith in Vermonters’ shared ability to follow these directives in order to save lives, and to support each other and their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Phil Scott said. “Vermont is a small state with close-knit communities known for looking out for the wellbeing of our neighbors. When we tell people to stay home to save lives, I’m confident Vermonters will do the right thing.”
Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said that law enforcement and the public are partners in this process.
“Vermonters are really coming together to heed the orders that have been issued to date,” Commissioner Schirling said. “We expect the same will happen with this additional order. We believe that education and voluntary compliance is the key as Vermonters unite during this difficult time.”
WHAT IS THE ORDER?
Gov. Scott’s newest order, "Be Smart, Stay Safe," directs Vermonters to use common sense when leaving home and continue to adhere to social distancing policies, such as remaining 6 feet from others (except for those with whom they share a home), regularly washing their hands, and avoiding touching their faces. Cloth face masks or coverings also should be worn in public. There are limits in place on the size of gatherings; as of the msot recent update on May 15, the maximum size is 10 people. Full details are availabe in this May 15 release from the Governor's Office.
Additional measures remain in effect, including restrictions on travelers arriving in Vermont that Gov. Scott announced on Monday, March 30. Anyone traveling to Vermont from out of state, whether residents of Vermont or visitors to the state, must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Vermont, unless those individuals are traveling to Vermont for a specifically defined essential purpose. The quarantine may end earlier than 14 days if individuals isolate for seven days and then obtain a test for COVID-19 that comes back negative. People already in Vermont may leave the state for up to one day for a non-essential reason without needing to self-quarantine afterward. However, if the trip is longer than a day, they still must self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Vermont.
The "Be Smart, Stay Safe" order is in effect until June 15, 2020, though it may be extended or shortened as needed. Vermont's state of emergency continues until June 15, as well.
HOW ARE THE ORDERS BEING ENFORCED?
In instances where police officers observe or are made aware of potential violations of Gov. Scott’s orders, law enforcement is encouraged to speak with the proprietor, staff, or group, provide a reminder of the new requirements, and assess voluntary compliance. Civil or regulatory mechanisms, specifically informing and educating those encountered in violation of the order about the mechanisms that may apply, could prove helpful. Again, officials expect the vast majority of compliance to be self-regulating.
The executive orders do not close roads, nor do they establish roadblocks, checkpoints or the authority to demand identification. People may be out and about. Motor vehicles with Vermont and non-Vermont registrations are allowed to operate, and traffic is expected to increase as restrictions ease. Accordingly, the orders do not establish cause to initiate a motor vehicle stop or detain people for questioning about their travel.
Members of the public who have concerns about businesses, lodging establishments, short-term rental properties, nonprofits or other entities that are operating out of compliance with Gov. Scott’s executive orders, or regarding individuals who are failing to self-quarantine as required, should call their local law-enforcement agency.
WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
Vermonters seeking additional information about the executive order should call 2-1-1, and visit the websites of Gov. Scott (governor.vermont.gov) and Vermont Emergency Management (vem.vermont.gov). Please do not call Vermont State Police dispatch.
Commercial entities, nonprofits, employers and others with questions about acceptable continuation of business operations should contact the Agency of Commerce and Community Development via this online form.