Vermont Department of Public Safety issues guidance on enforcement of ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ executive order
Law enforcement will rely on educating the public and receiving voluntary compliance as Vermonters unite to care for one another WATERBURY, Vt. (March 25, 2020) — The Vermont Department of Public Safety on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, issued guidance to local police departments regarding potential enforcement of Gov. Phil Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, announced Tuesday, March 24, and effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. Today, DPS and the Vermont State Police — the largest law-enforcement agency in the state — recommended to Vermont municipal leaders and law-enforcement executives that enforcement of this executive order 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 will be 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 order directs Vermonters to stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons, critical to health and safety, such as grocery shopping, seeking medical care, or exercising outside. If leaving the home, Vermonters should adhere to social distancing policies, including remaining 6 feet from others (except for those with whom they share a home), regularly washing their hands, and avoiding touching their faces. All businesses and nonprofits not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery only, may continue. The order contains exemptions for businesses and entities that provide services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety, along with economic and national security. This includes — but is not limited to — health care operations; retail that serves essential human needs, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores; fuel products and supply; maintenance of critical infrastructure; news media; financial institutions; and transportation and critical manufacturing sectors. Travel to and from these exempt businesses and entities is permitted. For a full list, please review the order at this link. Leaving the home for exercise and outdoor activity is allowed, provided that people are adhering to appropriate social distancing. The order is in effect until April 15, 2020, though it may be extended or shortened as needed. HOW WILL THE ORDER BE ENFORCED?In instances where police officers observe or are made aware of people operating in violation of Gov. Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, 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 order does not close roads, nor does it establish roadblocks, checkpoints or the authority to demand identification. Motor-vehicle and pedestrian traffic will continue as Vermonters engage in permissible activities outdoors and travel to and from businesses and entities that are continuing to operate under the order. Accordingly, the order does notestablish cause to initiate a motor vehicle stop or detain people for questioning about their travel. 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: https://bit.ly/covid-vt-business-operations.