Burlington will be canceling its traditional July 3 fireworks display to prevent large crowds in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus as the city starts to reopen.
Mayor Miro Weinberger said Friday the city was calling off all events at Waterfront Park until the end August, including the July 3 fireworks.
“We just cannot have those crowds of tens of thousands of people gathering safely on July 3,” he said during a press conference.
Gov. Phil Scott announced last week that county fairs and outdoor festivals must be canceled this summer. He said the state was not ready for large, unstructured events with hundreds or thousands of individuals coming into an area.
Weinberger said that the city wanted to still recognize and celebrate the July 4 holiday, and was thinking about how that could be done in a safe way.
“It is challenging to think of how we re-conceive this holiday in a safe way,” he said. “We will do something for July 3, we are all figuring this out together.”
Weinberger also detailed the city’s plans for “supportive” quarantine, a program that will target college students returning to the state beginning June 1. Residents have raised concerns about the possibility the returning students could cause an outbreak of the virus in the city.
Students are required to quarantine for 14 days or until they test negative for Covid-19 on day seven or later after they return to the state.
The city is requesting returning students to register with the city and take a pledge to quarantine for 14 days or seven days with a test. The city will check in daily with those who are quarantining to help ensure they are able to successfully quarantine.
“If students, especially students that don’t have a family network, are here and need help … with getting groceries, picking up medications, really anything that might evolve, the city team and volunteers are going to try to help,” he said.
Students will also receive a gift card to a local restaurant if they remain committed to the quarantine through four days, Weinberger said.
Weinberger said that a move-in package with a mask and hygiene supplies will be provided to those who register. While the program is aimed at returning students, any residents returning to or moving to Burlington are welcome to register as well, he said.
The National Guard is setting up a testing site at the University of Vermont’s Waterman building parking lot to test for the virus starting June 3. The site will also be accessible for Champlain College students who want to get tested, Weinberger said.
Those who test positive will be able to isolate at a state isolation facility, to ensure they do not infect roommates, Weinberger said. The Department of Health will work to identify those who were in contact with the infected individual, he said.
The Burlington Police Department will be patrolling neighborhoods with high student populations. UVM will fund the patrols, Weinberger said, which will start Friday.
The patrols will be looking for gatherings in violation with the governor’s stay-home order, Weinberger said. While Scott announced he would be raising the limit on gatherings to 25, that does not go into effect until June 1, Weinberger said.
“These patrols will be looking for that and attempting to educate, and, if necessary take further action if they find gatherings of more than 10,” he said.
Burlington announced in April that the city would be issuing tickets to those not in compliance with the governor’s order.
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