Extends Keep Maine Healthy Program; Resets Indoor Gathering Limits; Postpones Reopening of Bars; Amends Travel Protocols
The Administration will also return to lower indoor gathering limits, postpone bar and brewery/distillery/winery/meadery tasting room re-openings for now, and remove New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut from exempt status under the State’s travel advisory.
Postponing the Reopening of Bars and Tasting Rooms
The Administration previously anticipated reopening bars and tasting rooms to indoor seated service on Monday, November 2, 2020. But in light of rising COVID-19 case numbers in Maine and scientific evidence that the unique environment of bars, including enclosed spaces where people gather with members outside their own household while talking loudly and not wearing face coverings, elevates the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the reopening of bars and tasting rooms for indoor seated service is postponed until further notice. The Administration will continue to evaluate public health metrics to determine when it is safe to reopen bars and tasting rooms for indoor seated service.
“To the business owners and employees of bars and tasting rooms, I am deeply sorry that we have been forced to make this decision to postpone your reopening to prevent the further spread of the virus. I know that you were ready and willing to follow public health guidance to keep yourselves and Maine people safe. We realize that this decision will cause hardship. We do not take this action lightly, but the rapid rise in cases in just the past six days means that we cannot in good conscience proceed with the planned reopening,” said Governor Mills. “My Administration will continue to do all we can to support Maine’s small businesses and hardworking families through these challenging times and will continue to seek further financial relief from Congress for Maine businesses who have lost so much already.”
“This continues to be a challenging time for small businesses across the country,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “We hope that the recent Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program has supported some of the businesses impacted, and we will continue to work to find creative ways to support businesses and their employees.”
Adjusting States Exempt from Maine’s Quarantine or Testing Alternative
The Administration also announced that, effective Wednesday, November 4, 2020, people traveling from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are no longer exempt from Maine’s quarantine or negative test requirement. People coming here from these states must either quarantine for 14 days or receive a negative COVID-19 test with a sample taken less than 72 hours from arrival in Maine, quarantining while awaiting test results. This protocol includes Maine residents returning from one of the non-exempt states.
The travel decision comes after the Administration reviewed recent public health data, including other states’ rapidly rising prevalence of the virus and positivity rates. In reviewing these metrics, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey demonstrated an alarming increase in prevalence of the virus. New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts remain exempt from the 14-day quarantine or negative test requirement, although the Administration is closely evaluating public health metrics in Massachusetts and may reinstate the quarantine or negative test requirement if trends do not improve.
Even with these updated travel protocols, Governor Mills strongly recommends that visitors from exempt states and Maine people returning from exempt states, especially during the upcoming holiday season, obtain a test in order to “Know Before You Go.” Under the Department of Health and Human Services Standing Order, any person in Maine who feels they need a test, with or without symptoms, can get a test without an order from a primary care provider.
Read the full press release here.