Late Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and directed the closure of in-person operations for all non-essential businesses.
The Governor’s order directs Vermonters to stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons, critical to health and safety. If leaving the home, Vermonters should adhere to social distancing policies, including remaining six feet from others (except for those with whom they share a home) and thoroughly and regularly washing hands.
Effective March 25, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., all businesses and not-for-profit entities 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, can continue. A list of exempted or essential businesses are listed in the declaration. Restaurants, for example, may still operate for takeout only.
At a press conference this morning the Governor and Health Commissioner stressed all Vermonters need to heed the current declaration. The number of positive cases is rising rapidly.
The Stay Home, Stay Safe order will be in effect until April 15, 2020, though may be extended or shortened as needed. For full details, please click here to read the full addendum.
Commercial entities, non-profits, employers and others with questions about acceptable continuation of business operations should contact the Agency of Commerce and Community Development via this online form. VAST trails are now closed.
Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency on March 13, and has since directed a number of mitigation strategies in order to reduce close contact among individuals, including visitor restrictions for long-term care facilities and other health facilities; the closure of bars and restaurants, schools and day care centers and close contact businesses; limiting the size of mass gatherings; postponing all non-essential medical procedures; and ordering all businesses to implement telecommuting wherever possible.
On a related matter, with the growing outbreak in New York City, Vice President Mike Pence said anyone leaving the New York area should self-isolate for 14 days to avoid spreading the coronavirus. New York, which has increased its testing capacity, is now the U.S. epicenter of the virus.
Important Tax Changes
are advised as well that income tax filing due dates for the
following taxes have been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15,
• Vermont personal income tax
• Vermont Homestead Declaration and Property Tax Claims
• Corporate income tax
• Fiduciary income tax
This means taxpayers can file and pay these taxes on or before July 15, 2020 without any penalty or interest. This includes any tax year 2020 estimated payments that were due for these taxes on April 15th, 2020.
The Governor has directed the Commissioner of Taxes to exercise his authority to provide relief to Vermont businesses who owe Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax until further notice. Many of our local businesses find themselves unable to meet the March 25 and April 25 filing deadlines due to the implementation of mitigation steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Taxpayers who are unable to meet the deadlines will not be charged any penalty or interest on these taxes for late submissions.
It is important to note this is not an abatement of the tax collected.
For the most up to date guidance, please visit www.tax.vermont.gov.
Legislature Likely to Approve COVID-19 Measures
On Wednesday afternoon the Vermont House will meet to final approval to two key bills amended by the Senate on Tuesday that contain important provisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both measures could be on the way to the Governor this evening to be signed into law.
These include a waiving on the normal one week waiting period for unemployment benefits if your job loss is due to COVID-19 layoff, reduction of work, caring for a family member with the virus, loss of child care and more, as well as relief from an employer’s experience rating due to COVID-19 related layoffs.
A variety of health care items were approved, many dealing with licensing issues were included along with changes in election laws for 2020 and amendments to the State’s open meeting law to allow online and conference calls without a physical presence.
The text of the bills can be found in the Senate Journal from Tuesday. H.742 found on page 366 and H.681 on page 361.
A provision was also approved to allow the legislature to vote remotely during the State of Emergency.
Senate reconvenes to pass emergency COVID-19 measure
For the latest information and guidance relating to Vermont’s COVID-19 response, visit www.healthvermont.gov/covid19.
Public Wi-Fi map and information on access in Vermont
Additional connectivity resources
Online museum and park tours
What You Need to Know About Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Chicago Doctor’s Blunt Speech about COVID-19 Hits Home
Vermont Department of Labor
Utility disconnect moratorium
Agency of Commerce and Community Development Guidance for Business
I am honored to serve as the state representative for the district towns of Bridgewater, Chittenden, Killington & Mendon. You may reach me at JHarrison@leg.state.vt.us or my cell 802-236-3001. Messages may also be left during the legislative session at 802-828-2228.