MONTPELIER, Vt. — A Vermont gym owner who has been sparring with the state over whether he could operate during the COVID-19 business restrictions has been given permission to operate outside by the Vermont Attorney General’s office, if the owner follows strict state guidance.

A letter to Sean Manovill, the owner of Club Fitness in Rutland, dated Wednesday, said he could operate as an outdoor gym if, among other requirements, the facility was limited to 10 people or less, including staff. All equipment must be cleaned between customers and protective measures must be followed, including the wearing of cloth face coverings.

Manovill was initially sued by Attorney General T.J. Donovan after reports he opened the gym inside earlier this month. A judge then ordered Manovill not to allow in-person indoor activities.

So Manovill moved his equipment outside Tuesday, but later put yellow tape around it fearing further action from the state.

“This isn’t about me, this isn’t about Club Fitness. This is about health and wellness,” Manovill told MyNBC5.com.

While the letter signed by Assistant Attorney General Eleanor Spottswood said Manovill’s business could operate if he followed the requirements, it was unclear Thursday if the business was open. Repeated calls went unanswered.

FACE COVERINGS

Brattleboro has joined Burlington and South Burlington in requiring people to wear face masks in establishments in the Vermont communities, but the city of Barre is recommending masks rather than requiring them.

Barre Mayor Lucas Herring said he consulted with both the city’s police and fire chiefs and they felt enforcement could be difficult.

“At this point I don’t see that it’s necessary,” Herring said during a Tuesday city council meeting.

But the Brattleboro Select Board approved the mask requirement by a vote of 5-0. “We are going to hear about it one way or another,” Select Board Chairman Tim Wessel said during the Tuesday meeting. “That’s our job.”

Republican Gov. Phil Scott said Friday that his order encourages face masks in public, but doesn’t require them, and that municipalities could implement stricter requirements of their own.

On Monday, the city councils in Burlington and South Burlington both passed resolutions requiring masks.

Retail stores were allowed to reopen to in-person shoppers on Monday at 25% of capacity.

CORRECTIONS CAMP

The Vermont Department of Corrections’ work camp in St. Johnsbury is going to be holding 10 inmates returning to the state from Mississippi to ensure they are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The inmates will be held at the Caledonia Community Work Camp after returning to the state for a variety of reasons that include nearing the end of their sentences. The Caledonian Record reports none of the inmates have tested positive for the virus, but, as is required for anyone coming to Vermont, they must complete a quarantine.

Corrections’ Al Cormier says that after a week they will be tested for the virus and if found negative they will be moved to other facilities.

NATIONAL GUARD-FLYOVER

The Vermont Air National Guard will be flying over hospitals across Vermont in F-35 fighter jets on Friday to salute health care and other essential workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Guard says the planes will take off from the South Burlington airport about noon and then fly over hospitals and other locations across the state. The entire flight is scheduled to take about an hour.

THE NUMBERS

On Thursday the Vermont Department of Health reported five new new cases of the coronavirus bringing the total to 950. The total number of deaths remained at 54.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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