Police Taking Educational Approach To Enforcing Stay-At-Home Order

Chief Tim Page

There will be no roadblocks, checkpoints or demands for identification from police as they enforce Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s “stay at home” order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Nor will there be random traffic stops or detentions for questioning of those suspected of being out and about without proper authorization.

But there will be some reminders.

“Law enforcement is encouraged to speak with the proprietor, staff, or group, provide a reminder of the new requirements, and assess voluntary compliance,” reads a press release from the Vermont Department of Public Safety this week. “Today, DPS and the Vermont State Police — the largest law-enforcement agency in the state — recommended to Vermont municipal leaders and law-enforcement executives that enforcement of this executive order be handled primarily through education and voluntary compliance.”

Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said that he expects law enforcement and the public to be partners in the process.

“Vermonters are really coming together to heed the orders that have been issued to date,” said Commissioner Schirling. “We expect the same will happen with this additional order. We believe that education and voluntary compliance is the key as Vermonters unite during this difficult time.”

St. Johnsbury Police have already been working to educate the public about Coronavirus safety measures since the crisis began.

“Things have been going well,” said Police Chief Tim Page on Thursday. “While we have changed some procedures, officers are still patrolling and reminding people of the Governor’s executive orders when they do see violations. We continue to urge people to employ social distancing and isolation standards.”

St. Johnsbury Police continue to ask the public to contact officers by telephone rather than going to the police department.

The governor’s order requires Vermonters to stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons critical to health and safety, such as grocery shopping, seeking medical care, or exercising outside. If leaving the home, Vermonters must adhere to social distancing policies by staying 6 feet from others except for those with whom they share a home. The order also requires residents to comply with regular hand washing and avoid touching their faces.

“All businesses and nonprofits not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations,” reads the DPS release. “Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery only, may continue.”

The order contains exemptions for organizations that provide services critical to public health and safety and “economic and national security,” reads the DPS release.

This includes — but is not limited to — health care operations, retail businesses that serve essential human needs such as grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores; fuel products and supply; maintenance of critical infrastructure; news media; financial institutions and transportation and critical manufacturing sectors. Travel to and from exempt organizations is permitted, according to the release.

The governor’s order is in effect until April 15, 2020, but could be extended or shortened as needed.

“Vermont is a small state with close-knit communities known for looking out for the well-being of our neighbors,” said Governor Phil Scott, according to the DPS release. “When we tell people to stay home to save lives, I’m confident Vermonters will do the right thing.”

Vermonters seeking additional information about the executive order should call 2-1-1, and visit the websites of Gov. Scott (governor.vermont.gov) and Vermont Emergency Management (vem.vermont.gov).

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