COVID-19 data: Number of people who can come to Vermont without quarantine shrinking

The number of people able to visit Vermont without planning for at least a week or two of quarantine first is shrinking as COVID-19 cases are rising again across New England, according to state officials. 

In fact, that number is the lowest it has been since Vermont officials began producing the map earlier this year. As of Tuesday, approximately 1.6 million people are able to travel to Vermont without first quarantining, according to data presented this week by Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak. In July, that number was 11.5 million people across the northeast.

Data presented by Pieciak shows that cases are beginning to rise across the northeast, including in Vermont. With the approach of the holiday season, state health officials have encouraged Vermonters to begin planning ahead for any potential need to quarantine.

Vermont's Department of Financial Regulation released this updated travel map of northeastern U.S. states showing positive COVID-19 cases per million people as of Oct. 20, 2020. Counties that are green can travel to Vermont without quarantine.

Who could potentially travel to Vermont without quarantine? 

People living outside Vermont within the northeastern U.S. are able to travel to the Green Mountain state without quarantining first if their home counties have fewer than 400 cases per million people. They are colored green on a map released by the Department of Financial Regulation. 

The northeastern states considered for potential travel to Vermont without quarantine are all of the New England states plus New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and West Virginia.

As of Tuesday, much of Maine and parts of New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts made up the population that could travel to Vermont without quarantine. Several scattered counties in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia also continued to be non-quarantine counties. Most of the rest of the map was red, which meant they had more than 800 cases per million people.

A graph issued by Vermont's Department of Financial Regulation on Oct. 20, 2020, shows how the number of people who can travel to Vermont without quarantining has dropped over time.

Vermonters traveling to these areas must follow the same guidelines, but in reverse. If they are traveling to a county with more than 400 cases per million people, they must quarantine upon return to Vermont, the guidance states.

People who are coming to Vermont for essential purposes, including work, do not need to quarantine, according to state guidance. However, people who believe they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not travel into the state, the guidance adds.

What are the quarantine guidelines? 

People coming from counties with more than 400 cases per million people in the northeast, or who are traveling from places outside the northeast, must quarantine upon arrival to Vermont. This includes people arriving by public transportation, including airplanes, trains and buses, the guidance states.

The Washington Post reported recently that many people visiting Vermont for autumn-related tourism were flouting the rules. The travelers had admitted to the reporter that they were not obeying the restrictions.

“Anxious to travel once again, they came to Vermont from as far as Texas, Utah and Michigan, arriving by plane or car, then heading straight to sightseeing,” Post reporter Jen Rose Smith wrote.

Vermont's Office of Financial Regulation created a U.S.-wide map to show COVID-19 case counts per county throughout the U.S. The map was presented Oct. 20, 2020. Most of the country is red, meaning the counties have more than 800 cases per million people.

Most of the rest of the country’s counties have more than 800 cases per million people, according to a map released Tuesday by the Financial Regulation Department.

Quarantines typically last 14 days, but travelers can end quarantine early if they test negative for the virus after quarantining for seven days. 

“Travelers must stay in their quarantine location for the duration of quarantine other than to travel to and from a test site,” state guidance says.

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 802-651-4835 or emurray@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.