Vermont governor allows gatherings of up to 10 people

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Small gatherings of 10 people or fewer will now be allowed in Vermont, albeit with precautions, Gov. Phil Scott announced during a Wednesday news briefing.

“We can now take some steps to restart social visits and enjoy some recreation,” said Scott, noting the sacrifices Vermonters have undergone during the stay home order has allowed the state to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“These small gatherings will give Vermonters a chance to safely reunite, if we do so carefully.”

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Small groups gather in the ice-cream line at Burlington Bay in Burlington on May 3, 2020. (Photo: JOEL BANNER BAIRD/FREE PRESS)

Vermonters will be allowed to reconnect with family members and friends in outdoor settings, or with other “trusted households” that are also taking necessary precautions and practicing social distancing. 

More: Vermont golf, outdoor recreation to resume May 7 with restrictions in place

In each scenario, the use of facial coverings or masks is encouraged.

“There’s no specific set of guidelines or enforcement measures we can put in place, so we need Vermonters to use some common sense during these visits,” said Scott.

“Stay Home, Stay Safe” will continue to be in effect, Scott noted, and residents over the age of 65 as well as Vermonters with pre-existing health conditions are recommended to continue to stay home in the interim.

Read the text of the governor’s order here.

Residents hoping to leave Vermont are still required to quarantine at home for 14 days once they return to the state. Those hoping to explore trails and parks across the state will no longer be limited to the 10-mile radius officials previously advised.

“Now more than ever, we need to rekindle these relationships with the outdoors,” said Julie Moore, secretary of the state’s Agency of Natural Resources.

Outdoor recreation sites like parks, ball fields and courts, alongside businesses affiliated with outdoor activities that require little to no direct contact, will be allowed to reopen, although spectator events and recreation leagues will not be permitted.

Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or ebakuli@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.

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Outdoor recreation activities limited, not banned by Governor Polis’ stay-at-home order

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We’ve got answers to frequently asked questions about the coronavirus stay-at-home orders.

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Colorado residents can still go outside for exercise under the statewide stay-at-home order, Gov. Jared Polis said Friday, but they are urged to stay close to home and keep a safe distance from others to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The stay-at-home order issued Thursday doesn’t mean you have to stay inside.

You can go for a walk in the park, a jog around the neighborhood, a bicycle ride or to your favorite local fishing spot, the governor said. It’s even OK to get in your car and drive to locations near your home to participate in those activities.

The city of Fort Collins and the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, following the lead of the World Health Organization, continue to stress the importance of outdoor exercise for personal health. The governor also emphasized it but suggests outdoor recreation be limited to what is “absolutely necessary” for the duration of the stay-at-home order, which runs through April 11.

Larimer County’s order lasts through April 17.

“If you need to recreate, and we love our outdoors, do it in communities close to your home,” Polis said at a news conference a day after issuing the stay-at-home order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. “… This pandemic is not a vacation. It’s not the time to drive 2 or 3 hours from Denver to mountain communities, many of which are reeling from the crisis. Let me add that that is really dumb, because those communities have a higher rate of infection than where you live.”

FAQs: Larimer County and Colorado stay-at-home orders to prevent coronavirus

Polis is asking residents to avoid parking areas and trails that don’t have enough space for people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart from one another. That might also mean finding a less-used trail or recreating at off-peak times, he said.

Horsetooth Reservoir and the trails surrounding it are a great option for Fort Collins residents, Larimer County Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman Katie O’Donnell said, provided they don’t all go to the same trails at the same time.

There are numerous city, county and state parks and open spaces in and around Fort Collins for people to get outside and enjoy.

Even the three city-run golf courses that have been closed for play — City Park Nine, Collindale and SouthRidge —are open for walking, running and similar activities “for the mental and physical well-being of our community,” city spokeswoman Valerie Van Ry wrote in an email Friday night.

“Visitors to the course(s) are asked to recreate responsibly and observe the minimum physical distancing of 6 feet from other individuals,” she wrote.

Police: We won’t pull you over just to enforce Larimer County’s stay-at-home order

Some outdoor recreation areas where people were found to be consistently violating social-distancing guidelines have already been closed and others will be, she said, if the guidelines