Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced another slight easing of COVID-19-related restrictions Friday, as state officials said they continue to see encouraging trends in the data.
Starting Monday, manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses in Vermont will be able to operate with up to 10 people. One week later, on May 11, those businesses can resume full operations “if they comply with additional stringent requirements,” Scott said at a news conference.
He also announced that all public-transit employees and customers will be required to wear cloth face coverings.
He said he expects to take further steps in a week.
“We’ve focused on sectors like manufacturing and construction that have controlled environments, open space and are accustomed to following rules to provide for safe work sites,” Scott said at the news conference. “They’ll be able to set an example for others, as we look to do more in other areas.”
His announcement Friday follows a gradual easing of restrictions over the past two weeks on construction crews, manufacturers and some professional services.
As of Friday morning, 879 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Vermont, an increase of 13 from one day earlier. The state has counted 50 deaths among COVID-19 patients.
Seventy-one of the cases and three of the deaths have been Windham County residents.
Vermont is continuing to see positive trends in the data, according to Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, who is leading the state’s forecasting efforts.
Speaking at the news conference, he said there has been a decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and the number of people with an active infection is expected to drop significantly in the coming days. “It’s safe for us to assume that we have passed the peak on this important measurement as well,” he said.
Officials said they believe Vermont’s efforts to slow the spread of the disease have been working. But they urged caution and continued compliance with public-health measures like social distancing and wearing masks in public settings.
Scott said his administration is keeping an eye on the data, and on nearby states like Massachusetts and New York that are grappling with much worse outbreaks. “I want to make sure that everyone understands we can’t declare victory yet,” he said.