Scott can’t stop plastic bag ban, explains timing for in-person school year cancellation; church service policy discussed

By Guy Page

Gov. Phil Scott on Friday acknowledged the pain of closing in-person schools for the rest of the year but said the step was necessary to mitigate the effects of a growing statewide pandemic.

“I know this news is incredibly difficult, it’s disappointing, it’s just plain sad” for students, parents and school staff, Scott said at a Friday morning press conference in Montpelier.

Most reporters attended remotely. Chris Roy of the Newport Daily Express asked why he acted now and not a month from now. “If we put this in place now we’ll get better as we go along,” Scott said. Stressing the uniqueness of the situation Scott said, “we don’t know where we are going with this” but assured  “we are relying on the best modeling.” Asked about childcare, he said “we’re going to have to get creative in this respect.” The administration is “focusing on mitigation of what we see as ramping up.”

Guy Page

Health Commissioner Mark Levine announced the ninth (last night) and 10th (this morning) Covid-19 deaths. Total number of positive tests stands at 183. Wilson Ring of the Associated Press asked Levine why, other than random chance, New Hampshire and Maine both have had one death while Vermont has had 10. Levine gave a one-word answer: “outbreak.” 

Levine added that “We have one long-term care facility [Burlington Health & Rehab] that has had an outbreak of Covid 19 in a very frail population. At the senior care facility, “the goals of care were not aggressive treatment in a hospital care center. Only one of the seven deaths [at Burlington Health & Rehab] occurred in a hospital setting. I think that makes our numbers look worse because that’s all it takes.” There is no need to move patients from BHR because the facility is using proper protocols.

Why hasn’t the state kept local hospitals informed about  “surge capacity” plans – making sure there are enough beds, ventilators and staff if the number of cases spike, Sean Cunningham of the Chester Telegraph asked. Public Safety Commissioner Mike Schirling said the hospitals need to communicate with the Vermont Hospital Association representatives who sit on the surge capacity planning committee.

Greg Lamoureux of the County Courier (Enosburg) asked what remote technical education will look like. Again stressing the need to be creative, Education Agency Secretary Dan French said the planning group tasked with educational continuity now also oversees technical education career pathways. So at least the group will know tech ed, he said.

Independent reporter Mike Donoghue asked how the state will handle thousands of out-of-state students hoping to return to Vermont to recover property left in dormitory rooms. “They should ask themselves, Do I want it or do I need it?,” Scott said. “ If you just want it, stay right where you are until we get further down this path. If you need it….I’m sure the school could ship it to you. What’s the best action for your personal safety and others?”

The Caledonian-Record publishes a Littleton, New Hampshire edition. Reporter Amy Ash Nixon noted two New Hampshire grocery store employees have tested positive. Gov. Scott said he hadn’t heard of any testing positive in Vermont. “We need to make sure we are feeding and taking care of people,” he added.

Scott said he promised to take the heat if, in retrospect, the difficult measures he has imposed prove an unnecessary overreaction. But right now he and his team are working on the best information available to keep Vermonters safe, he said.

Gov. Scott also said he lacks the authority to postpone the July 1 implementation date for a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags passed last year by the Legislature. He could eliminate the fines, he said, but it’s up to the Legislature to make any changes. “It’s not high on the priority list today,” he said. “But we could work with them.”

Many Vermont stores now refuse to allow baggers to handle reusable grocery bags – Shaw’s in Montpelier, for example. A quarter-mile away at Hunger Mountain Co-op, a masked service representative said the co-op is discouraging use of reusable bags. Many groceries were leaving the store in paper bags. Outside, staffers were wiping down the handles of grocery carts returned from use.

Tim McQuiston of VT Biz said that despite state promises that no-one would be disconnected from internet services, Comcast is still sending out disconnect notices. “If families don’t have money how can they be assured their service won’t be disconnected,” he asked. They families should call the 2-1-1 hotline, Scott said. As for Comcast, “they’re not regulated. We hope they will hold off on any disconnection.”

After the press conference ended, Vermont Daily asked Scott administration lawyer Jaye Pershing Johnson if, with “stay home, stay safe” work guidelines specifying “no in-person religious services, but encourage online,” it’s okay for church pastors, music teams, and sound/video crew to be at church together to video-stream the service. She said the administration is very aware of the possible constitutional issues involved in just telling all churches to close down. At the same time, they want to limit gatherings for health reasons.

She said the administration’s message to churches in this matter needs to be more nuanced, and that she would speak with officials in the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, which is overseeing the work closures. She also encouraged church leaders with specific questions about gathering to live-stream to ask Secretary Lindsay Kurrle ( or Deputy Secretary Ted Brady ( Their phone number is 828-3080.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

17 thoughts on “Scott can’t stop plastic bag ban, explains timing for in-person school year cancellation; church service policy discussed

  1. I wrote to Gov. Scott several weeks ago about suspending the planned ban on plastic grocery bags in July. I noted that CDC and other healthcare advisors discourage the use of reusable bags as they are highly fraught with potential to provide “transmission” of COVID.

    When I got an answer back it never addressed the issue of reusable bags and their contamination issues versus the positives associated with single use plastic bags. The return letter thanked me for my concerns about grocery store worker safety. Huh?

    I agree with other writers; the Gov. has executive power to force stay at home orders and all other emergency proclamations including calling up the National Guard, yet he “can’t stop the self-imposed planned ban on plastic bags”. He is afraid of the phony Progressive leadership in this state and continuously plays his middle of the road, will always “negotiate”, milk toast positions. If he thinks this buys him any political parity, he is dead wrong. They hate him! They want him out of there. And, can you imagine Zuckerman as Governor? This state will go from really bad to unlivable. Vermont is around 50th (depending on year) for growth and GDP. What a reputation that hardworking taxpayers don’t deserve. Regulations, climate, and a list of other restrictive policies have killed us as a viable competitive force. We are a playground and not a producer. When IBM left Vermont, after years of warning that if the state didn’t get friendlier towards industry it would leave the state, they were ignored. Clean industry like that with thousands of good paying jobs will never be back.

    This is when we need a leader! He needs to tell the Dems/Prog’s to go home, stay in the house as he is in charge and he will call them if he needs them. OF COURSE THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN. It is not nice to ruffle feathers. A good thing Trump doesn’t subscribe to such political pandering, he just gets it done!

  2. Brown Shirts, Animal Farm, Brave New World, Atlas Shrugged.

    VENEZUELA, former East Germany, Wuhan Food Markets

    Vermont has twice as many “Gov’t Employees” empowered as NH, and NH has twice as many citizens as Vt.

    Maybe Freedom only lasts 250 years?? Is that our legacy for our Children and Grands???

  3. ok, cus I’m a slow engineer, what the heck does this mean???

    “Education Agency Secretary Dan French said the planning group tasked with educational continuity now also oversees technical education career pathways. So at least the group will know tech ed, he said.”

  4. Paper it is! we could use a good market for wood in this state! Plastic was a step in the wrong direction for this country. Remember the days when grocery baggers knew how to pack groceries into paper? Instead of 10 plastic bags, two paper bags would suffice…we used them for book covers, art projects, fire starter, etc. could even recycle them…amazing!

    • Plastic was the choice because if we didn’t stop using paper bags there wouldn’t be any trees left, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Left would make up what little there is to their minds.

    • Come out of the dream world. It takes more energy to make paper bags then plastic. And I don’t know of one single person that only uses plastic bags to take things home. they are all used again and will be replaced by buying plastic bags. We also can’t burn paper trash now, which is exactly what people use to do.

  5. Unlike Our Gov’ – Even Stopped Clocks Occasionally Get it Right !

    Governor Scott can order most commercial and non-profits to shut down, close retail stores, restaurants, schools, colleges, universities, theaters, hotels, highway rest stops, public restrooms, churches, mosques, synagogues and can tell citizens to “stay home” – but claims he lacks the authority to revoke or suspend the plastic grocery store bag ban – what kind of lame ass bull is this ?

    The bags have been proven to be unsanitary when repeatedly reused – contaminating the places they are brought to and the food stuffs carried in them with bacteria, molds spores and viruses – hell of a thing to roll out in the middle of an epidemic, Dr. Phil !

  6. Phil Scott is just shy of completely useless. What a marshmallow.

    Meanwhile, go online and get your own plastic bags to use. Or just shop in NH.

      • If you go back to 1978 nobody in Vermont has ever beat an incumbent from either side I believe. Vermont is screwed, but it has nothing to do with John Klar.

        Everybody is going to learn to love brown shirts at the rate we’re going. We’ll end up collapsing like Venezuela, perhaps then we’ll see change. The charade never lasts for ever. Our state is a great test case for the New World Order…..just like George Bush wanted….you’d think that would make most of our state not fall for it.

  7. I want to know governors in other states can suspend the plastic bag ban, but our governor can’t? — We need rational answers if he wants rational people to vote for him in November.

  8. Funny how they can take away all our liberties, but “can’t stop the plastic bag ban!”

    Seriously????? but you can keep us in our home and close our businesses? You can ration the toilet paper, but you can’t use a plastic bag instead of some nasty reused bag, to which you’re gonna have to wash every time you use it!

    And that 888 page bill they passed, they didn’t read, didn’t write……was available in a weeks time, where of where did that come from? Oh yeah…lobbyists. Not only did they take our liberties, the took a boat load of money….a boat load.

    We’ve become a bunch of brown shirts. Did you notice how the commentary and article on Cynthia Browning was pushed off the front page really quick? Notice how you can’t up vote too? I posted;

    “Cynthia Browning looks really good in that blue shirt. Mitzi wanted her to wear a brown shirt but Cynthia didn’t think it went with her blues eyes, which coincidentally are perfect vision.”

    That comment didn’t see the light of day!

    Yeah…it’s going to be a brave new world out there. Everybody stay away from the virus, will be interesting to see if the levels drop further, hopefully they do and it’s even less than a flue x10.

    • There are very few if any leaders in Montpelier most are manipulators, the plastic bag ban just points out how superficial most engaged in our governance have become.

      The one bright spot, beacon if you will, is Cynthia Browning she exemplifies the virtues of our founders. What or who does a governor represent when he cannot or will not at the very least delay a plastic bag ban. Has he surrendered the authority given him by Vermonters or has he sold our sovereignty to the global order!

      Cynthia Browning
      Removed from powerful house tax committee by speaker Mitzi Johnson

      Dear Cynthia,

      Your actions inspired me to come to your defense, we do not share the same party, but political parties are secondary to me, as I perceive they are to you.

      It is disturbing to me how we as a sovereign state and nation are so easily manipulated like sheep to the slaughter for a perceived crisis. And it seems rare but note worthy when someone such as yourself speaks to the integrity of our institutions when those you align with would merely take advantage of the situation, seizing it as an opportunity.

      You seem to recognize your obligation more than most for preserving individual rights and personal liberty, while many others spend our liberty like a currency that can easily be replenished; you on the other hand, have recognized the excuse of crisis is often just a tool of advantage!

      Thank you Cynthia, there is a huge difference between those who truly represent the people like yourself and those who represent the collective position of a political party. You place the people above the party, as you should. You stand taller because of what you stand for, not who you stand on!

      I have watched your party’s obsession for climate solutions in recent years, seemingly arrogant and unwilling at times to even listen to people with concerns for their livelihood. But you see, it’s really not about climate, it’s about what is being done to us in the name of a climate crisis, we object to!

      I do not know why you were removed from your committee assignment, but you appear to have been attacked from behind the shield of the COVID 19 crisis, perhaps a safe haven for those who would tread on individual rights and personal liberty.
      You should be proud of where you stand, I hope your constituents realize how fortunate they are to have someone representing them who takes her oath seriously and demonstrates her allegiance to their representation so well!

    • I see the demise of vtdigger in the near future. All they hire for reporters are young fresh out of the indoctrination (colleges) centers or liberal publications. Any of their older reporters have a long experiences at other left wing publications. The reason they survive is because of their liberal following as does VPR. When a news organization filters and censors it’s readers comments (not footnotes) people will eventually catch on. The comments are monitored by people with an ideology that supports diggers mission, censorship by omission, failing to cover national stories that impact all of us and their liberal mission. Their motto “News in pursuit of the truth” is a sham. I was initially excited to find vtdigger for my morning read. Now I read it to monitor how intentionally they are misleading their readers. I have emailed them about censoring my comments (not footnotes) and they brush me off with an excuse. Most of Vermont’s media is now liberal, even WDEV and WCAX. They have chosen this course because they think they will be hurt by presenting both sides due to the liberal demographics of the state. I predict the further downfall of VT’s media if that is possible. The truth can only be hidden so so long and they are on the wrong side of Vermont’s future history. This situation that we all find ourselves in will help to point out the weakness of our government here in Vermont. While the legislature fiddles away with the global warming farce on the way to future bankruptcy our citizens are hurting and seeing the bare results of the liberal expansion in our state. When all the heart ache, pain and panic subsides (which it will) the people of Vermont will hopefully pull their heads out of the liberal bubble and take a long hard look at their so called leaders who have sold their lives out to lobbyists and a failed ideology!

      • they won’t change. they are driving rational people out of the state, so the only people who will be left are liberals who will never get it.

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