With most public spaces vacated by people staying at home, new elements emerge in the landscape and soundscape of Vermont Burlington Free Press
Over 100 Vermonters have taken to an online tool to complain about violations of the stay home order.
The Executive Order Reporting Tool was designed by the state’s Department of Public Safety to allow the public to self-report violations of the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, including non-complaint lodging properties, businesses and restaurants.
Local police departments and state troopers are now advised to contact and educate individuals and businesses who are not following the mandate, and repeated offenses are flagged to the Department of Public Safety and Attorney General’s Office.
Through a public records request, the Free Press received over 150 complaints submitted to the Department of Public Safety between April 3 and April 10. These complaints would then be directed toward local law enforcement officers to address.
The state redacted the names of the complainants and the business implicated. It was unclear as of April 25 how the complaints were resolved or whether any resulted in a fine. The Attorney General’s Office has said it would issue penalties only when necessary.
Airbnbs and campground guests
One of the concerns outlined by state officials and local residents was the ongoing operation of hotels, Airbnb rentals and campgrounds toward the beginning of the stay home order.
“It has come to my attention that the campground management is allowing people back in to open campers for the season,” reported a South Hero resident on April 8.
“Many of the seasonal campers there are from southern hotspots of Covid19,” the complaint said.
On March 30, Gov. Phil Scott directed all short-term rentals to take down online adverting, stop online bookings and shut down until further notice, with limited exceptions for health and safety.
In spite of the added restrictions, some residents found compliance to vary.
A resident from Elmore reported a “consistent stream of renters” coming in and out of an Airbnb property on their street.
“This is disconcerting to some individuals on the road who are permanent residents here,” they said on April 4.
Local residents were quick to point out instances of people arriving from neighboring states, most often New York, either for stays at short-term rentals or non-essential visits.
On March 30, the governor announced that anyone crossing state borders must quarantine at home for 14 days.
“I was out for a walk and came upon a family who I had not seen before. They mentioned that they were here from NYC Quarantining,” reported a resident from East Burke on April 3.
“He said they had been here for almost 2 weeks and planned to be here for over a month.”
The category in the online tool allowing people to report “Non-Compliance Visiting from Hot Spots” and a category called “Non-Compliance Scheduled Gatherings of 10 or more people” have since been removed.
Ongoing landscaping and renovation work
Many found that contractors were continuing to complete residential landscaping projects or home renovations during the executive order.
“The home owners are displaying a total disregard for anyone’s safety in order to get their home completed on time,” said a contractor in New Haven on April 8, who reported that the owners were bringing a crew of up to 10 laborers, plumbers and builders to finish a project on their house.
“Due to the confines of the home, social distancing is not possible.”
In other situations, neighbors found landscaping companies continuing to work in their street.
“3 people out doing clean up with in a foot apart from each other right now we are all on the executive order NOT to work,” a Middlebury resident stated on April 6. “Very frustrating and makes us all angry that some are not listening.”
Under Gov. Scott’s phased re-opening of the state, home construction of vacant properties and outdoor work will be allowed starting April 27, with a maximum of five employees in one location while practicing social distancing.
Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.
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