Gov. Scott: ‘We just can’t’ enforce social distancing at protests

By Guy Page

Does Vermont have one social-distancing rule for worshippers, and another for protesters? Even though the Constitution specifically protects both freedoms?

Since March, almost all of the estimated 21% of Vermonters regularly attending worship services have abided by Vermont state of emergency restrictions limiting religious gatherings. Despite questions and misgivings among some about constitutionality, citizen-worshippers have observed both the letter of the law and the Spirit of the Golden Rule.

Guy Page

This weekend, as many Vermonters were preparing at home to return to their churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. for the first time since the state of emergency began, they saw TV coverage of hundreds of Black Lives Matter-affiliated protesters gathered in Battery Park in Burlington. Most but not all wore masks. Few were six feet apart.

From a social-distancing perspective, it was a train wreck.

At today’s press conference, Gov. Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine said they are urging protesters to get tested. The Health Department is monitoring for possible outbreak, although as yet there are no signs. They said little to discourage future gatherings. At one point Scott said rallyers are being “encouraged” to socially distance, but will not be required to comply “due to their constitutional rights.”

This uncharacteristically hands-off approach to flagrant public disregard for social distancing prompted this request to Gov. Scott from Vermont Daily:

Governor thank you for this press availability and for all your hard work. You said earlier the rallyers this weekend are being encouraged to socially distance but will not be required to do so due to their constitutional rights. Please explain why our Constitutional right to protest is allowed to continue during the State of Emergency, but assembling to express our Constitutional freedom of religion has not been permitted until recently. To some it seems like a double standard where the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Gov. Scott answered: “If we could enforce the situation in some manner … we would rather people socially distance themselves. … but we just can’t. We just have to play the cards we’re dealt. We don’t want to preclude anyone from exercising their constitutional rights. This is a time of grief, anxiety, and frustration, and we want people to be able to express that.”

Looking for a silver lining, talk show host Kurt Wright of WVMT’s Morning Drive asked if there is no outbreak among protesters, would the state of Vermont open up other large gathering events such as Lake Monster baseball games and bars. To summarize the answer: the decision to fully reopen Vermont to all previously permitted activities will be data-driven.

“Data-driven” has been Levine’s and the governor’s go-to response — except, apparently, in the special case of public protest. In this case the deciding factors are “constitutional rights” and people’s need to express themselves. Here, the social-distancing “thou shalt” imperative has been softened to “thou shouldst.”

The purpose of the rally is not the issue. Some religious Vermonters support Black Lives Matter, some do not. All oppose murder in all of its forms. If it had been Franklin Graham, Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama holding hands and praying for world peace, no one would be surprised or upset if they were reminded to stand six feet apart.

It might be argued that this exception is both prudent short-term (keeps the peace) and wise long term (doesn’t set bad precedent.)  Vermonters surely do not want their government prohibiting peaceful protest of an arm of that very same government. Still — it does look like the squeaky wheel got the grease this time.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Guettarda
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17 thoughts on “Gov. Scott: ‘We just can’t’ enforce social distancing at protests

  1. well, if you want to speak of systemic racism, allowing and promoting one segment of the population to gather by the millions in very close proximity during a supposed covid pandemic, could there be something worse? who’s doing all this coordinating? there’s a bunch of lies being sold in this country, that is for sure.

  2. Undeniable proof that the lockdowns have nothing to do with anyone’s safety. It’s all about total power for government.

  3. Plain for all to see it always was and still is a massive Chinese Communist Party-mandated destruction of US economy…sent Chinese citizens to embark upon worldwide travel – from creation of the disease plandemic Wuhan/Hubei province residents were banned from other parts of China most specifically Bejing – 750,000 entered the US until we blocked complicit communists and other travelers from entering the country.

    After the ban additional 40,000 Chinese entered US while also spreading the disease worldwide rendering economies to roadkill. Aided & abetted by Chinese Communist Party supporter and criminal UN WHO leader – a Maoist – directives issued to CDC where ‘recommendations’ based upon fraudently-figured wildly inaccurate numbers from the thin air of computer modeling issued emergency mandates which manufactured the crisis-inducing plandemic.

    From UN-connected and donor to WHO – Bill Gates Foundation – appear board members Fauci the fraud and fellow fearmongering destroyer Deb Birx behaving as celebrities to usher in then given free reign over this massive hoax as our president rode this tiger until finally sidelining the scaremongers with numbers recorded w/disappearing ink.

    And here we are amidst the wreckage of school-closing job-killing business destroyer and dutiful follower of fellow globalists and manufactured mandates – consummate Trumphater – Chairman Phil – facepalm.

  4. The wheels of this ecomomy-destroying massive hoax have fallen off:
    Rules for political elite vs rules for working class becomes transparent as ‘experts’ abandon virus lockdown mantra
    June 5, 2020 | Vivek Saxena
    [..]”Yet weeks earlier, lockdown protesters who were seeing their life’s work be destroyed by the still-ongoing coronavirus lockdowns were demonized as grandma killers”

  5. Interesting to note that while the protesters across the land are causing mayhem and aren’t practicing “social distancing”, it’s not practical for citizens in Vermont to show up at the poles to vote where social distancing can be readily accomplished. Wonder if stuffing the ballot box is the real reason for the mail in movement. A side bar to all these protests is the real concern of the virus exploding in cities where these demonstrations are taking place. Time will tell.

  6. I knew that from the beginning. There is not enough law enforcement in the country if no one pays attention to the law. Sure there would be selective enforcement, using their clubs on certain individuals to scare the general population. But in the long run they loose.

  7. So then the “protest” should take place at the polling stations, to vote in PERSON !

  8. Purge is long overdue at our so called state house in the sanctuary city of Montpelier, Vermont!

  9. My head is exploding in so many ways. This is just liberal drivel at its worst. So if these idiot protestors get sick will the rest of us get locked down again? I’m guessing they won’t get sick and hoping for the silver lining. Proving this whole thing was a load of manure. If there is a spike I refuse to participate. Enough.

  10. A time of grief, anxiety, and frustration? You mean like when the state went into lockdown? And what would’ve happened had we staged a protest against that? We would’ve had our constitutional rights then? We would’ve been allowed to gather peacefully without social distancing to protest then? Or we would’ve been rounded up and arrested?

  11. I left Vermont last year for so many reasons but this being one of them. A plague does not determine to infect or not infect due to the cause espoused by the participants, either we have a health emergency or we don’t. Politicians don’t care as long as they think they can see the next election in the bag. Montpelier and Chittenden county are bringing my former state to it’s knees

    Vermont is rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the country which is hard to do when New York and California are still included in it.

    I wish all the true Vermonters the best of luck, you need it

  12. This is just another statement from Scott, showing no leadership just rhetoric,
    but he will stop law-abiding citizens from working or worshiping …… Pathetic !!

    If you label yourself as a protestor, do what you please, nothing from the so-called
    ” leader ” of the state to curtail your nonsense.

    BLM, Antifa just a gaggle of fools causing disruption blocking streets and traffic
    for those needing to go to work.

  13. How does the Governor say such stupid things with a straight face? Why does the mainstream media not challenge the stupid things he says? Correct me if I am wrong the State Supreme Court interprets the constitution not the Governor no? Yes? Maybe?

    Klar 2020

    • Thankfully, our forefathers wrote the Vermont Constitution so it was easily understood by the average person of the time. The majority of us don’t require a black-robed political hack reinterpreting our rights or inventing new ones to our detriment.

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