A Message to Vermont's Agriculture Community: Stay Home, Stay Safe
March 25, 2020 - Stay home. Stay safe. That’s the message. The coronavirus pandemic is incredibly difficult for our world, country, and Vermont. We are taking extraordinary steps to stop the spread of this virus. To effectively halt its disastrous spread, everyone needs to do their part in drastically reducing interpersonal contact. While minimizing contact is essential, work that is critical to our public health and safety must continue, while taking safety precautions.
Vermont has long been proud of its farmers and producers, and now, the role of farmers and producers is even more pivotal. The feed supplier, dairy farmer, vegetable grower, grocery store retail clerk—and everyone in between—generate our food production and supply and are essential to our safety as we work through this public health emergency.
Governor Scott is striving to halt the spread of COVID-19 while recognizing the need for continued critical services. Previously, the Governor closed or altered the services of some businesses (such as bars and restaurants, regular childcare services, and “close contact” services), required social distancing, and required that employees telecommute whenever possible. Now, the Governor has declared a state of emergency. The Sixth Addendum to his Executive Order adopts even more restrictive measures to protect the State.
Effective March 25th at 5:00 p.m., all businesses are required to suspend in-person services, unless they provide services or functions deemed critical to our public health and safety as well as our economic and national security. Businesses that do not provide services or functions deemed critical can no longer provide in-person services but are encouraged to operate through alternate ways using tools like the Internet and telephone to do on-line sales or curb-side pickup or delivery.
The Governor identified these services and functions (among others) as critical and so must continue:
- Critical manufacturing, including food and animal feed manufacturing, processing and supply (including meat processing)
- Agriculture and farms, animal shelters, production and delivery of seed, chemicals and fertilizers, CSAs and veterinarians.
- Retail businesses serving basic human needs such as grocery stores, pharmacies, other retail that sells food, beverage, animal feed and essential supplies, as long as these retail operations are conducted through on-line and telephone orders for delivery and curb-side pickup as much as possible;
- Transportation and agricultural sector equipment parts, repair and maintenance, provided these retail operations are conducted through on-line and telephone orders for delivery and curb-side pickup as much as possible
- Fuel products and supply
- Operations and maintenance of wastewater/drainage infrastructure; and
- Other vendors of technical, security, logistics, custodial and equipment repair and maintenance services necessary to support the COVID-19 response, critical infrastructure and national security.
Businesses that are not listed above may request the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) consider making an individual determination that they provide services or functions that are critical to our public health safety as well as our economic and national security. To request an individual determination, fill out this form https://bit.ly/covid-vt-business-operations
While businesses that provide these critical services or functions remain open and are not subject to the prohibition against in-person services, they must follow the recommended public health safety measures of the CDC and Vermont Health Department. The businesses must:
- have employees work remotely whenever possible,
- strictly require social distancing, and
- ensure the following practices whenever possible:
- maintain a 6-foot buffer between persons,
- make sure employees engage in good hygiene practices, including regular and thorough handwashing,
- require sick employees to remain home, and
- regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Everyone should take every possible measure to restrict the ability of the virus to spread. Social distancing is currently our most effective tool, and every business and person should maintain safe buffers between individuals and avoid gatherings. To protect everyone—including our most vulnerable citizens—we all need to prevent person-to-person contact.
Food production, supply, and sales are always essential to our society. In this challenging time, our food producers and related businesses are critical, and their services are necessary and welcome. We are grateful for our food producers and related industries and sincerely appreciate your shared efforts to combat this public health crisis. Maintaining society’s access to food while doing everything possible to curtail the spread of the virus is key.
Stay home. Stay safe.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secretary Anson Tebbetts