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March 25, 2020

DPS issues guidance on enforcement of 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' order

 
STATE OF VERMONT
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
 
Vermont Department of Public Safety issues guidance on enforcement of 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' executive order
Law enforcement will rely on educating the public and receiving voluntary compliance as Vermonters unite to care for one another
 
 
WATERBURY, Vt. (March 25, 2020) — The Vermont Department of Public Safety on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, issued guidance to local police departments regarding potential enforcement of Gov. Phil Scott's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order, announced Tuesday, March 24, and effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 25.
 
Today, DPS and the Vermont State Police — the largest law-enforcement agency in the state — recommended to Vermont municipal leaders and law-enforcement executives that enforcement of this executive order be handled primarily through education and voluntary compliance.
 
"I have tremendous faith in Vermonters' shared ability to follow these directives in order to save lives, and to support each other and their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic," Governor Phil Scott said. "Vermont is a small state with close-knit communities known for looking out for the wellbeing of our neighbors. When we tell people to stay home to save lives, I'm confident Vermonters will do the right thing."
 
Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said that law enforcement and the public will be partners in this process.
 
"Vermonters are really coming together to heed the orders that have been issued to date," Commissioner Schirling said. "We expect the same will happen with this additional order. We believe that education and voluntary compliance is the key as Vermonters unite during this difficult time."
 
 
WHAT IS THE ORDER?
Gov. Scott's order directs Vermonters to stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons, critical to health and safety, such as grocery shopping, seeking medical care, or exercising outside. If leaving the home, Vermonters should adhere to social distancing policies, including remaining 6 feet from others (except for those with whom they share a home), regularly washing their hands, and avoiding touching their faces.
 
All businesses and nonprofits 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, may continue.  
 
The order contains exemptions for businesses and entities that provide services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety, along with economic and national security. This includes — but is not limited to — health care operations; retail that serves essential human needs, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores; fuel products and supply; maintenance of critical infrastructure; news media; financial institutions; and transportation and critical manufacturing sectors. Travel to and from these exempt businesses and entities is permitted. For a full list, please review the order at this link.
 
Leaving the home for exercise and outdoor activity is allowed, provided that people are adhering to appropriate social distancing. The order is in effect until April 15, 2020, though it may be extended or shortened as needed.
 
 
HOW WILL THE ORDER BE ENFORCED?
In instances where police officers observe or are made aware of people operating in violation of Gov. Scott's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, law enforcement is encouraged to speak with the proprietor, staff, or group, provide a reminder of the new requirements, and assess voluntary compliance. Civil or regulatory mechanisms, specifically informing and educating those encountered in violation of the order about the mechanisms that may apply, could prove helpful.  Again, officials expect the vast majority of compliance to be self-regulating.
 
The executive order does not close roads, nor does it establish roadblocks, checkpoints or the authority to demand identification. Motor-vehicle and pedestrian traffic will continue as Vermonters engage in permissible activities outdoors and travel to and from businesses and entities that are continuing to operate under the order. Accordingly, the order does not establish cause to initiate a motor vehicle stop or detain people for questioning about their travel.
 
 
WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
Vermonters seeking additional information about the executive order should call 2-1-1, and visit the websites of Gov. Scott (governor.vermont.gov) and Vermont Emergency Management (vem.vermont.gov). Please do not call Vermont State Police dispatch.
 
Commercial entities, nonprofits, employers and others with questions about acceptable continuation of business operations should contact the Agency of Commerce and Community Development via this online form: https://bit.ly/covid-vt-business-operations.
 
 
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March 21, 2020

DPS encourages Vermonters to avoid disinformation during pandemic

 

STATE OF VERMONT

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

 

DPS encourages Vermonters to avoid disinformation during pandemic

 

WATERBURY, Vt. (March 21, 2020) — In times of crisis, separating fact from fiction is more important than ever. But doing so can also be more difficult.

 

That’s why the Vermont Department of Public Safety strongly encourages residents to avoid spreading rumors, speculation and disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Vermonters should turn to trusted sources including their municipal and state governments, established local and national news outlets, and fact-checking and myth-busting resources from federal authorities.

 

“‘Trust but verify’ is the old cliché, but now we need to turn it around: ‘Verify, then trust,’” said Michael Schirling, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety. “Sharing unfounded rumors, even if you have the best of intentions, can have unintended consequences like spreading fear and stretching already burdened resources even more thin.”

 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a comprehensive, regularly updated website to dispel disinformation that is circulating online. The direct link is https://www.fema.gov/Coronavirus-Rumor-Control.

 

Additional resources include:

 

People also should be cautious about email scams and malicious websites that are seeking to exploit the current situation. Vermonters are reminded to follow best practices for safety online, including verifying links in messages before following them, ensuring the legitimacy of websites before visiting them, and being especially skeptical of unusual emails.

 

“We want people to stay safe as we all navigate this crisis together,” Commissioner Schirling said. “That includes looking after not only your health, but also the accuracy of information you receive and choose to pass along to others. Be especially wary of unfounded posts on Facebook, links to unknown sources, or text messages that purport to be from someone with special access to insider information. Remember, disinformation can be dangerous.”

 

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March 14, 2020

Vermont State Police modifies operations in response to COVID-19

 

STATE OF VERMONT

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

VERMONT STATE POLICE

 

 

Vermont State Police modifies operations in response to COVID-19

 

 

WATERBURY, Vt. (March 14, 2020) — During these unprecedented times, people, businesses and governments throughout the world are modifying their operations as a novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has spread around the globe. In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency Friday, enacting steps to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the most vulnerable.

The Vermont State Police, like law-enforcement agencies nationwide, has planned for this situation and is taking precautions. Commanders have directed members of the state police to make certain modifications to their operations to protect both the workforce and the public.

 

“These modifications are undertaken out of an abundance of caution to ensure we are taking appropriate steps to reduce unnecessary risks of exposure to COVID-19 for members of the Vermont State Police and for Vermont residents,” Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Schirling said. “But I want to be clear: The Vermont State Police is still in full and active operation.”

 

Under the procedures currently in effect, Vermont State Police barracks are staffed, and members are continuing to respond to calls. In some cases, the agency will change the way it handles those calls. For instance, troopers will physically respond to major case investigations such as homicide, and to calls regarding crimes in progress, motor vehicle crashes with injuries, missing persons cases and domestic assault, as a few examples. As needed, troopers may take precautions such as social distancing, consulting with medical first responders, and using personal protective equipment.

In other cases, such as minor motor vehicles crashes, vandalisms and thefts, the state police may take reports from the public over the phone. State police members are making these response decisions in consultation with supervisors. The Vermont State Police encourages people who are victims of these types of crimes to report them over the phone rather than by walking in at a barracks. Additionally, state police members are evaluating the necessity of trainings and travel and will curtail or reschedule those events as appropriate.

“The public should rest assured that our services remain available. We are continuing to function as a law-enforcement agency should under the unusual circumstances we all are facing,” said Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police. “The state police is taking prudent precautions to ensure we can continue to respond to calls for service, as Vermonters rightfully expect us to do.”

These procedures have been developed by Commissioner Schirling and Col. Birmingham in consultation with health experts. Additional steps, if necessary, will be determined by these same individuals, with the continual goal of ensuring the protection of the lives and safety of all Vermonters.

 

A list of all Vermont State Police barracks, their phone numbers, and the names and email addresses of the commanders of those barracks is available at the following link: https://vsp.vermont.gov/stations.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Adam Silverman

Public information officer, Vermont State Police

adam.silverman@vermont.gov

 

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