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Attorney General Donovan Issues Directive to Lodging Operations

April 2, 2020

NOTE: The Attorney General’s Lodging Directive, as updated April 10, 2020, has been superseded by Addendum 14 and guidance from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The Attorney General’s Lodging Directive is no longer active and should not be relied upon for any purpose. 

Contact: Rob McDougal, Chief of Environmental Division & Co-Chair of COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today issued a Directive to Lodging Operations on the Enforcement of COVID-19 Emergency Order. The directive supports the Attorney General’s ongoing effort to promote voluntary compliance with Governor Scott’s Executive Order by providing Vermonters with education and outreach during the COVID-19 crisis. To date, this effort has included making telephone contact with 41 lodging operations identified by law enforcement as not complying with the Governor’s orders earlier this week.

“I have always believed that the best way to enforce the law is to give Vermonters the opportunity to comply with it,” said Attorney General Donovan. “We all have a role to play in this public health crisis, and we are asking Vermonters to do their part. My office will continue to work with lodging operations to give them the tools and information necessary to do the right thing, which in this case is abiding by the Governor’s Executive Order.”

Under the Governor’s Executive Order, Addendum 7, all lodging operations, which include hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, and short-term rentals like VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb, and all public and private camping facilities and RV parks, are to close except for in rare cases involving services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety and economic and national security. Lodging operations may only remain open if they meet a specific exemption set out in the Order. These exemptions include housing vulnerable populations; providing accommodations for health care workers, or other workers deemed necessary to support public health, public safety or critical infrastructure; being used as quarantine facilities; and in other limited extenuating circumstances for the care and safety of Vermonters. Online reservations are also suspended until further notice. Lodging operators must post a prominent notice on their web platforms advising potential guests that reservations for lodging in Vermont will be accepted by phone only and only for guests deemed critical under the Governor’s Order.

While education and voluntary compliance is the primary goal of the Attorney General and State Government at this time, the Attorney General does have civil and criminal enforcement authority. Civil penalties may include a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation (that is, $1,000 per day). Criminal enforcement may include a fine, not greater than $500, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.

The Vermont State Police and local law enforcement will continue to monitor lodging operations for compliance and will make referrals to the Attorney General’s Office for possible enforcement action, as needed.

A here are links to today’s directive and accompanying one-page informational sheet.