MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is taking another step toward reopening the economy, allowing restaurants and other venues next week to increase their capacity and allowing July 4 fireworks — as long as they are at drive-in events.

Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrle announced Friday that restaurants, arts venues other entertainment establishments starting June 26 can increase their capacity from 25% to 50%, to a maximum of 75 customers inside and 150 outside.

“Our announcement today will not make the hospitality industry whole,” Kurrle said. “But we hope it’s another step in the return to profitability allowing venues to plan summer events as we head into this all important season to the tourism sector.”

The state is also allowing visitors from New York and the other New England states to visit Vermont without quarantining for two weeks if they come from counties in the region that have virus infection rates of less than 400 per million residents. The state announced Friday that the number of people in counties that fall into this category has reached 6.8 million.

Other coronavirus-related developments in Vermont:


Mandatory face coverings for students and teachers and bus stop temperature scans are part of the back-to-school guidance issued by the Vermont Agency of Education for this fall.

The guidance recommends that another adult ride the bus with the driver to assist with screenings, which would be done before students board. Both adults also must wear face coverings. Students would be assigned seats on the bus.

Facial coverings may be removed during outdoor activities where students and staff can maintain physical distancing and have ready access to put them back as needed when the activities are over, according to the guidance.

With cafeterias closed, students should be offered school meals in their classrooms, and if that’s not possible, grab-and-go carts could be made available for students to collect meals in small groups, the guidance said.

Every school district and independent school “should establish a COVID-19 coordinator to establish, review and implement health and safety protocols,” the guidance says. That person “should be a school nurse or other health professional qualified to interpret guidelines and ensure they are implemented to the best standard of practice.”


Vermont’s unemployment rate dropped to 12.7% for May, a decrease of 3.8% from 16.5% in April, the first full month reflecting the impact of the coronavirus.

The national unemployment rate in May was 13.3%.

“The May figures show increased economic activity as companies continue to re-open,” Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said. “Construction, manufacturing, retail, and leisure and hospitality industries showed significant increases in employment this past month and early indications see this continuing.”


The Vermont Department of Health on Friday reported nine new positive cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, including two that are linked to a new outbreak in Winooski.

The new cases raise to 88 the number of cases linked to the Winooski outbreak. They brought the statewide total of positive cases to 1,144.

No new deaths were reported Friday, leaving the statewide total at 56.

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