Rep. Sibilia: March 21 update

Today’s Updates

Good evening,
Twenty new cases were announced today – this underscores the need to behave as if it is spreading throughout our communities. The preventive actions all are being asked to take are to prevent the overwhelming of our Healthcare System – including protecting our healthcare workforce.

Bookmark for updates:

Vermont Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Current Status in Vermont Webpage for updates.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Disease page
World Health Organization Coronavirus Disease 2019



Filing income taxes

Federal actions taken mean we now know that unless the Vermont Legislature moves to change anything, the filing and payment deadline for personal income tax is now July 15 for both the federal and state returns. This due date applies to both small businesses who report income on Schedule C of their personal income tax return and to corporations.


GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT ANNOUNCES NEW COVID-19 COMMUNITY MITIGATION MEASURES
Directs the Closure of Close-Contact Businesses and Further Restricts the Size of Mass Gatherings to 10 or Less  

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced additional community mitigation measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.   While most individuals affected by the Coronavirus will experience mild to moderate symptoms, others – especially the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions – are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. Governor Scott and public health officials have set a strategy aimed at protecting those at greatest risk, slowing the spread of illness in our communities and minimizing the risk to the public.   In consultation with the Department of Health, the Governor has determined it is necessary to prohibit in-person operations at close-contact businesses, meaning those unable to comply with guidelines for social distancing.

That’s why Governor Scott has directed gymnasiums, fitness centers and similar exercise facilities, hair salons and barbers, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors to close all in-person operations no later than 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 23.   “As I’ve said throughout this crisis, I will continue act to slow the spread of this virus in Vermont because we must protect those at greatest risk of serious illness and ensure they can get the care they need, when they need it,” said Governor Scott. “We will continue to make decisions based on science and guidance from our experts. I don’t make these decisions lightly and my heart goes out to these workers and small business owners who are feeling the negative effects.”  

On Friday, Governor Scott outlined initial actions his administration has taken to support individuals, families and businesses through this challenging time.   On March 13, Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency and has since directed numerous mitigation strategies to reduce close contact among individuals, including the temporary closure of bars and restaurants, schools and child care facilities (other than those providing services for the children of essential personnel) and DMV district offices; and postponing all non-essential medical procedures.  

At this time, all other businesses not named may remain open, but must work to implement CDC and the Vermont Department of Health guidance related to COVID-19, including: Maintaining a distance of six feet between people; Ensuring employees practice appropriate hygiene measures, including regular, thorough handwashing; Ensuring that employees who are sick remain home; and Regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.  

The addendum requires all public and private enterprises to post appropriate notices for compliance with the above listed recommendations.  

Governor Scott has also further reduced the allowable size of non-essential mass gatherings, which are now limited to no more than 10 people at the same time in a single space.   A “non-essential gathering” does not include normal operations at airports, bus or railway stations where persons may be in transit; typical office, construction, manufacturing, grocery, food production, retail and retail banking, professional or other employment environments; gatherings of the press; or operations of the Vermont Judiciary or General Assembly consistent with their constitutional authority.   

“There is no doubt these are difficult times, and my administration – with the help of the legislature and Vermont’s Congressional delegation – will do all we can to help those impacted by this virus or these measures,” Governor Scott added. “I’m proud of the people of our state and how they’ve pull together. The strengthen of Vermonters is how I know we’ll get through it. I encourage everyone who is able, to join this movement to make a difference in this time of crisis.”  

For details on these new measures, click here to read the full addendum.   Commercial entities, employers, event sponsors and others with questions should contact the State Emergency Operations Center at 800-347-0488.

COVID-19 Child Care Stabilization Payments for Private Tuition Announcement and Link to Form
Child care is a critical infrastructure to families in Vermont. It is a system that relies on tuition payments to maintain programs to care for children statewide. We are encouraging families to continue to pay their tuition and co-payments to child care programs during the time of closure. If a family cannot afford to pay their child care program during this time, the State of Vermont has approved a COVID-19 Child Care Stabilization Payment program to support child care programs financially whose enrolled families are unable to afford paying tuition or co-payments during this Closure Period. Programs that are eligible to apply include privately operated or non-profit licensed or registered programs that: Are charging families to maintain child care spaces during Coronavirus closure or absences Are paying regular staff during the Coronavirus related closure Please see the Guidance on How to Apply for COVID-19 Child Care Stabilization Payment Frequently asked questions about the program along with who to contact with questions about the program will be available soon.


Vermont Public Service Department: Map of Vermont Public WiFI locations

Here is a link to a wi-fi hotspot map the Department published online Friday afternoon, subject to continuous updating as we get more data. This map will help school kids and displaced workers find alternative internet access if they have otherwise been depending on schools and workplaces to get online: https://publicservice.vermont.gov/announcements/public-wifi-hotspots-vermont  

New Webpage re: COVID-19 Connectivity Resources: Here is a link to the Department’s new webpage detailing new connectivity resources that are available to support folks during the COVID-19 emergency:   https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/new-connectivity-resources-support-you-during-covid-19-state-emergency-vermont  

Residential Disconnection Moratorium: All Vermont electric, natural gas, and jurisdictional telephone companies have stayed residential disconnections. The overwhelming majority of these companies stepped up to do so voluntarily before the Public Utility Commission ordered a moratorium on Wednesday on residential disconnections through April 30. The moratorium as yet does not apply to water companies or cable companies — the Department is working on this. As of now, there is no indication that these companies are disconnecting or would do so during the emergency. Also, the moratorium also does not apply to internet service providers or cell service providers – these companies are not subject to state regulatory jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the Department reached out to internet and cell providers to enlist their cooperation, and many reported having taken the FCC pledge to keep their customers connected during COVID-19 emergency. This link will take you to the pledge list: https://www.fcc.gov/keep-americans-connected  

Planning ahead for additional protections: On Friday afternoon, the Department filed a report with the PUC suggesting, among other things, that there be further process to review whether the disconnection protection should be extended to businesses as well, which the Department supports.


Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us 

Kind regards, 

Rep. Laura Sibilia 
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

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