By Guy Page
Vermont’s state prisons won’t be open to volunteers offering religious services anytime soon, Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said at Tuesday’s press conference.
Vermont Daily asked: “Volunteer church groups are hoping to return to holding safe church services inside Vermont state prisons. They say it is an inmate’s religious right, just as the public is allowed to go to church as long as they are following the CDC guidelines. Has your team discussed this and what can volunteer groups expect?”
“We are very, very cautious about who comes into the correctional facilities,” Smith answered. “We have learned that the infection comes in from the outside. Whether it comes in through someone who is being booked into the facility, or visitors to our facility, we have been very cautious. It continues to be closed off until we can get a handle on what happens in our facilities.”
Corrections has been successful in limiting transmission with these strict contact management practices, and “I don’t see those changing anytime soon,” Smith said. “We will make changes as quickly as we can.”
Vermont Daily also asked Gov. Phil Scott: “My wife and I went to the Cornerstone Restaurant in Barre at 6:30 last Saturday night. It’s normally packed then, but there were only three other parties there. Since most of the Covid-19 deaths are in Chittenden County, and most of the returning students are coming back to Chittdenden County, and the interstate maps are already registered by county, how about a two-tiered system with stricter regs for CC and less elsewhere? And if not why not?”
The governor didn’t address a possible two-tiered system, and suggested customer caution, not regulations, are slowing diners’ return to Vermont’s restaurants. “A lot of people are cautious,” he said. “I’m not sure I’m excited about going out in a social way to a restaurant.” The state is offering grants and other economic support for the hospitality industry, he said.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.