Vermont is no longer considered a lower-risk state for contracting COVID-19, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Effective Saturday morning, individuals traveling to or returning from Vermont must now fill out a travel form and quarantine upon arrival in Massachusetts, unless they are able to produce a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before arriving in the state.
The news comes as Vermont’s daily coronavirus cases averaged more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents with a positive test rate of over 5 percent. Metrics must stay below 10 cases per 100,000 residents with a positive test rate below 5 percent, both measured on a 7-day rolling average, in order to be considered low risk. New Hampshire and Vermont were removed from the low-risk list last week. Hawaii is the only remaining US state to be considered low-risk.
Exemptions to the state’s travel order include commuters who cross state lines for work, those arriving for medical treatment, military personnel, and those who are traveling for work or essential services. The state also exempts certain short, same-day trips across the border and back that are designated as “critical life activities.” Those activities can include grocery shopping, visits to pharmacies, dentist and doctors’ appointments, and required appearances at official proceedings.
Failure to comply with the travel order could result in a $500 per day fine.
Prior to this month, Vermont held the coronavirus at bay, even as infections spread at breakneck pace beyond the state’s borders. On Nov. 13, Governor Phil Scott announced new COVID-19 restrictions that are believed to be among the toughest in the nation. Restrictions include a ban on households visiting each other, both inside and outside, in public and in private, hospitals barring visitors with only a few exceptions, and strict quarantine rules. Visitors to Vermont must quarantine for 14-days, regardless of where they are arriving from. Vermont’s health department even strongly advises against non-essential travel within the state.
Positive COVID-19 cases surpassed 13 million across the US on Friday, after a Thanksgiving upended by the pandemic and amid a Black Friday hampered by virus fears and capacity limits on stores.