Kevin and Patty Begin, owners of Tucker Hill Inn on Marble Hill Road in Fayston, received a visit from a Vermont State Police trooper on March 28 who initially told them that he was checking out their inn to determine if it would be appropriate for a field hospital.
“After he pulled up to the inn and Patty and I came out to greet him, he asked if there was anybody here and we told him that we were closed,” Kevin Begin said.
“He asked how many rooms we had and we told him. We asked what was going on and he said they were polling inns in case they have to be turned into makeshift hospitals,” he continued.
After they posted on Facebook about the visit, the trooper called them back and said “that he wasn’t completely truthful about what I said to you,” Begin said.
“I asked what he had been there for and he said he was checking out the out-of-state population and trying to gauge the size of it and to make sure we weren’t harboring people from out of state,” Begin said.
The Valley Reporter contacted Vermont State Police spokesperson Adam Silverman about this. Silverman said he was aware that VSP had made contact with some lodging establishments to make sure they were complying with Governor Phil Scott's executive order regarding closure, but was not aware of VSP researching potential field hospitals. He is investigating the issue.
The owners of the two inns closest to Tucker Hill Inn were not contacted. Ana Dan, owner of the Hyde Away Inn on Route 17, said that she had not been contacted and the owners of the Swanson Inn on Route 17 said they had not been contacted or visited.
“Vermont State Police and law enforcement officers throughout the state were tasked with visiting hotels and motels to give them a friendly reminder that the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order from last week required that all lodging operations cease operation,” Silverman said.
The lodging section of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order reads as follows:
“The Lodging and Accommodations sector must suspend most in-person operations under the Governor’s Executive Order. Permitted lodging would include housing for vulnerable populations (emergency shelter for homeless individuals) as arranged through the state; providing accommodations for health care workers, or other workers deemed necessary to support public health, public safety or critical infrastructure; lodging properties being used as quarantine facilities as arranged by the state; and limited extenuating circumstances for the care and safety of Vermonters. Short-term rental owners, such as property owners using Airbnb, must also comply with this order. Existing guests may remain through the end of their stay but should not be allowed to extend unless there are extenuating circumstances.”
Silverman was also asked if troopers visited Tucker Hill Inn in response to a call or complaint. He is continuing to investigate to provide more details. Additional information will be published as it is received.
Police visit lodging establishments to assess compliance with executive order
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Vermont is necessary to help ensure the health care system has the capacity to care for Vermonters who experience the worst impacts of this communicable disease. Governor. Phil Scott has ordered critical strategies to help achieve this goal.
On March 25, 2020, Gov. Scott issued the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, which required commercial lodging establishments to immediately begin to cease operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday, March 28, the Vermont State Police and other law-enforcement agencies throughout Vermont were tasked with visiting hotels and motels to assess compliance with Gov. Scott’s executive order.
The order specifies that lodging establishments be closed except under limited circumstances, including:
• Housing vulnerable populations (emergency shelter for homeless individuals) as arranged through the state.
• Providing accommodations for health care workers, or other workers deemed necessary to support public health, public safety or critical infrastructure.
• Use of lodging properties being as quarantine facilities as arranged by the state.
• Limited verifiably extenuating circumstances for the care and safety of Vermonters.
The purpose of the visits was to evaluate compliance. The information will be used in consideration of any additional steps needed to help meet the goals of the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order. Law enforcement visited roughly 295 lodging establishments on Saturday, with about 20 sites remaining to be contacted. Efforts are continuing to visit the remaining locations.
More information on this and other COVID-19 topics is expected at the governor’s media availability on Monday, March 30.
Further information is available in Gov. Scott’s order and in expanded guidance from the from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
Public Information Officer, Vermont State Police
Vermont COVID-19 Joint Information Center