Prevent COVID-19

Prevent COVID-19

There are things we can all do to protect ourselves and the people around us from getting or spreading COVID-19.

Prevention STEPS

Stay home if you are sick

Why –  Staying home keeps illness from spreading to others. Rest also helps you get better.

How – Cancel your plans and stay home from work. Let your friends, family or neighbors know you are not feeling well. Ask if they are willing to drop off food, prescription or other things you need while you recover.

When – Do this any time you have symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses.

TIP Make a plan now for what to do if you or someone in your house gets sick.

Wash your hands

Why – Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer rinses off or kills germs you may have on them. This lowers your risk of getting infected with a virus if you touch your face, nose or eyes. If you are sick (even if you don’t know yet), washing your hands lowers the risk of spreading your germs to others when touching shared surfaces, such as doorknobs.

How – Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

When – Any time, but it is especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Also wash your hands any times they are visibly dirty.

TIP Keep hand sanitizer in your car, bag or attach a travel-sized, clip-on sanitizer to your key chain so you always have it with you.

Take care when getting together

Why – Vermont continues to see the spread of COVID-19. We must all do our part to slow the spread, ensure hospitals are not overwhelmed, help schools continue to offer in-person instruction, and keep as many Vermonters working as possible. Find out about restrictions on gathering.

Close contact means being within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Limiting the number of people you are in close contact with lowers your risk of being exposed to and spreading COVID-19. 

How – Vermont has restrictions on social gatherings based on whether you are fully vaccinated or not.

You are fully vaccinated 14 days after your final shot. Since children under age 16 cannot get vaccinated at this time, they are considered unvaccinated.

The following limits apply to both social gatherings at a private residence and events at a venue. If you don’t know if someone is fully vaccinated, then assume everyone is unvaccinated and follow that guidance.

For indoor gatherings:

There can be one unvaccinated person per 100 square feet up to 150 unvaccinated people (whichever is less), plus any number of fully vaccinated people. 100 square feet is about the area covered by a big sports utility vehicle (SUV).

  • If only fully vaccinated people are at the gathering in a private setting, no one needs to wear a mask or stay 6 feet apart. Everyone is required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • If anyone at the gathering is unvaccinated, at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or lives with someone at who is at increased risk, then everyone needs to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart.

For outdoor gatherings:

There can be 300 unvaccinated people, plus any number of fully vaccinated people.

  • When you’re outdoors, masks are only required when you’re in a crowd or with multiple other households where you can’t maintain a 6-foot distance. Follow this guidance whether you are vaccinated or not.

Have an open and honest conversation with people you wish to gather with about what you are doing to stay healthy day-to-day, such as wearing a mask, staying physically distant and avoiding crowds when out of the house. Share your reasons for why it's important to you.

When – Continue to take care when getting together and as more and more people get vaccinated, we will see COVID-19 become less of a threat to public health.

TIP While we work hard to contain the spread of COVID-19, stay socially connected with friends, family and loved ones by phone or video chat. 

Stay at least 6 feet apart

Why – COVID-19 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets of a person infected with the virus. These droplets can land about 6 feet (2 meters) away. Keeping a physical distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) lowers the risk of these droplets reaching you and others when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or talks. It is possible for a person who is infected with COVID-19 to not know they are infected and spread the virus. It can take as many as 14 days to have symptoms and some people never develop symptoms at all.

How –  Choose open areas where there is room to spread out. This is typically easier if there are fewer people and you are outdoors. Learn how to do this if you live in shared housing.

When – Any time you are with unvaccinated people from more than one household or with people at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness. Even when you are wearing masks, it is important to keep a distance.

TIP Add visual and physical clues to remind yourself to keep 6 feet (2 meters) apart. For example, arrange seating to be farther apart, or use a garden hose to divide your backyard (this works great for kids, too!).

Wear a mask

Why –  A mask helps contain your respiratory droplets and can keep them from reaching other people. COVID-19 can spread before a person has any symptoms. Wearing a mask helps protect you and the people around you from getting or spreading COVID-19. For more protection, you can wear two masks.

How –  Bring a mask with you when you leave home. The State of Vermont is offering a limited number of free cloth face masks to the public. Find out if free cloth face masks are available in your area.

Face Masks FAQs
How to Select, Clean and Wear Your Face Mask (CDC)
Improve How Your Mask Protects You (CDC)

When – You are required to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces in Vermont, even if you are fully vaccinated. Indoor public spaces include businesses, public buildings, and group living settings (such as long-term care facilities, nursing homes, apartment and condo complexes).

In indoor private settings (for example, at a gathering with family and friends or riding in a car), we recommend that you wear a mask anytime people who are not fully vaccinated get together.

When you are outdoors, masks are only required when you are in a crowd or with other households where you can’t maintain a 6-foot distance.

Vermonters can decide whether they need a mask by considering three elements:

  • Outside
  • Masked
  • Distanced

You need two of these three elements. For example – if you’re outside and distanced, you don’t need a mask. If you’re outside and not distanced, wear a mask. And if you’re not outside, you should wear a mask and keep a distance.

The CDC requires people to wear masks when using public transportation.

TIP Store your face masks with your keys, phone or wallet so it's easier to remember, keep an extra in your coat pocket, bag or car just in case.

Face Masks Frequently Asked Questions

Wear a Face Mask to Keep COVID-19 from Spreading
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Face Coverings for Children
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Guidance on Mask Exemptions in Children and Adolescents

Get the COVID-19 vaccine

Why - Together, the vaccine and preventive actions are the best ways to keep from getting and spreading COVID-19. Vaccines help your body fight off the virus and keep you from getting sick. The more people who get vaccinated, the faster we can end the COVID-19 pandemic. When you are vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine after being in close contact with someone COVID-19 in certain situations. You also do not need to get tested when you return to Vermont after travel.

How –All three vaccines are safe and similarly effective at preventing severe illness and death. This standard is what is most commonly used to assess other vaccines like the flu shot. Read more about the vaccines available in Vermont.

When – All people 16 years and older who live or work in Vermont can make an appointment to get a vaccine. Until enough people are vaccinated, we need to keep following all of the safety guidelines.

TIP Find out how to make an appointment at

Things You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines
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Find out About COVID-19 Vaccines in Vermont