MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has called a special session for Monday to pass legislation tailored to grant municipalities the authority to implement time-limited mask mandates.
Scott offered this path to legislative leadership as a compromise following repeated calls for statewide mandates and restrictions, which the governor does not support at this point in the pandemic. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns also requested this local authority, on behalf of its members.
In a letter sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the state Senate, the governor outlined his offer, and reiterated he would not support — and would veto — any additional measures the Legislature sought to pass during this special session.
The governor and his team will continue to encourage Vermonters to get vaccinated, get their booster shots and — while hospitals continue to be strained — to wear masks indoors, make smart choices about gatherings, stay home when sick and use testing as a tool. The administration has also taken numerous steps to expand hospital capacity by adding beds and staff and increasing access to life-saving treatments like monoclonal antibodies.
“At this phase in the pandemic, with more than 20 months of experience, broad, top-down mandates and the overuse of executive emergency power is not appropriate and counterproductive to our ultimate path forward, which is getting more people vaccinated and boosted,” Scott said. “COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, and perhaps could be with us for decades, which is why we need to use the experience and knowledge we’ve gained managing the virus to continue moving forward.”