Vermont has become the first US state to reach its 80% Covid-19 vaccination goal and is shedding all statewide restrictions on dealing with the pandemic, including letting a state of emergency expire by Tuesday night.
Governor Phil Scott made the announcement on Monday and said he would drop physical distancing, crowd size restrictions and masking requirements.
“There are no longer any state Covid-19 restriction,” the Republican announced. “None.”
But Scott said he would allow municipalities and businesses to continue practices if they choose to do so.
On Tuesday the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, announced that his state would lift “virtually all” Covid-19 restrictions, after clearing 70% of adult residents with at least one vaccine dose.
“We can now return to life as we know it,” Cuomo said to a standing ovation in One World Trade Center, in Manhattan. “We’re going to make a New York that’s better than its ever been before. We rise as New Yorkers, ever upwards, aspirational, that’s what New Yorkers are.”
In Vermont, emergency medical service providers will continue to wear masks for the foreseeable future, regardless of vaccination status. Public transportation and long-term care workers will also practice safeguards since they fall under federal guidelines.
State officials had planned to lift all remaining restrictions by the Fourth of July.
“The ingenuity, creativity and dedication of all Vermonters to their friends and families, to their neighbours and to their communities, has been incredible and we should all be very proud,” Scott said.
“Through it all, we’ve shown the nation and much of the world how to respond when there is no playbook, and how to do it with civility and respect.”
Vermont’s health commissioner, Mark Levine, said in May some people would probably continue to wear masks.
“It takes time to transition,” he said. “I think it’s just a way of people saying that they need to arrive at their own comfort level and on their own timeline, and I’m all for that.”
On Monday, Scott offered a brief reflection on the 15-month pandemic.
“Never did I think I’d be the governor ordering businesses to close, sending kids home from school or telling people to ‘Stay home, stay safe’,” he said.