Outdoor Recreation and COVID-19

turkey hunter and angler

UPDATED Monday, June 8, 2020 - (please note: additional guidance is coming soon) 

Given the important role outdoor and wildlife-based recreation play both in Vermont’s economy and in the physical and mental well-being of its residents, Governor Phil Scott continues to amend his “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order as part of the state’s gradual reopening.

Take Health & Safety Precautions

Vermonters have broader latitude to pursue outdoor recreation, including additional opportunities for hunting, fishing, foraging, wildlife watching, and wildlife photography, among others. While the increased access to recreation is welcome, it is important to know that limitations and restrictions needed to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 still apply:

  • Keep a 6-ft distance from other people.
  • Wear a face mask or cloth face covering whenever possible, recognizing that doing so while engaging in certain types of recreation may not be possible.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoiding touching surfaces which are often touched by others.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment that is shared.
  • Stay home if you are sick or have recently been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
  • When engaging in outdoor recreation, do so safely and carefully. Search and rescue and emergency medical services both put strain on an already stressed system to provide those services.

Keep Your Social Circle Small

  • When recreating with others, choose other trusted households that are also taking health and safety precautions. This could be another family, or members of your own family who live in a separate household.
  • Limit your group to 25 people or fewer.

Stay Close to Home

  • Outdoor recreators are asked to stay as close to home as practical to reduce the risks presented by additional travel.
  • Consider outdoor spaces and open areas where it is not too crowded and easier to keep a physical distance.
  • Choose activities that do not require sharing food or touching shared objects or other surfaces.

NEW Nonresidents Recreating in Vermont

Residents of counties in New England and New York with fewer than 400 active COVID-19 cases per one million residents, (which includes parts of Northeastern New York, Rhode Island, northern New Hampshire, and parts of Maine) are welcome to enter Vermont for recreational purposes without having to quarantine. Residents from a non-quarantine county may travel to Vermont without quarantine restrictions if they travel directly to Vermont in their personal vehicle.

Travelers must register with ‘Sara Alert’ upon arrival to Vermont to get two weeks of daily reminders to check for common symptoms of COVID-19. Travelers must remember to follow any travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in their home state upon their return.

Map for cross-state travel

Nonresidents from counties with higher than 400 active cases of COVID-19 per one million residents (which includes southern New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, southern Maine and southern New Hampshire) are discouraged from coming to Vermont for any non-essential reason, including outdoor recreation, and they are to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days before resuming their activities, or quarantine for at least seven days and receive a negative COVID-19 test.

map of quarantine counties

State Land Use

Most state lands, including Wildlife Management Areas and fishing Access Areas, remain open. In some cases, facilities such as docks may not be in place yet, given COVID-19 related limitations on work and related delays. In others, mud season restrictions may necessitate roads or trails remaining closed in the short term.

Private Land Use

Those participating in activities outside are reminded that while trail and land management organizations may decide to open their property, in same cases they may not. As always, those hunting, fishing and enjoying other kinds of outdoor activities should respect the land and waters they recreate on, and if organizations choose to keep their lands closed should respect that and follow their guidelines.

Respect and Courtesy

The need for courtesy and respect among users is even more important during this pandemic than it is in normal times. For example, nobody should be gathering or congregating at parking areas, trailheads, access areas or other places before or engaging in recreation. Please give each other plenty of space, whether masks and other protective measures are utilized or not, and please keep dogs on leashes when they are in public places.

Providers of Outdoor Goods and Services

Outdoor goods and services businesses are open for customers to purchase and access equipment and services. Those businesses are reminded that they must conduct their operations in accordance with Agency of Commerce and Community Development rules, which can be found here.

Learn More


Contact Us

Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife
Commissioner Louis Porter

1 National Life Drive
Fish & Wildlife LogoDavis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620-3702

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The mission of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is the conservation of all species of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the people of Vermont.