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Large venues prepare for season following new mask, social distancing guidelines

Businesses are hiring and gearing up for the summer season following Gov. Mills' relaxing mask and social distancing guidance to align with U.S. CDC

MAINE, USA — Across the state, businesses are preparing for the summer season following Governor Janet Mills' announcement of changes to the state's mask and social distancing guidelines to align with the U.S. CDC. 

"We'll probably be looking a lot more like we did in summer 2019, and every summer before that," said Funtown Splashtown USA General Manager Cory Hutchinson.  

"The mask mandate going away, outside as well as social distancing going away outside, has really changed the picture for us a lot," said Hutchinson.

Gov. Mills announced Friday that effective May 24, masks will no longer be required in public indoor spaces for those who are fully vaccinated. 

In addition to the indoor mask requirement being lifted for those fully vaccinated, the physical distancing requirement at indoor public settings where people are eating or drinking and therefore would be removing their face covering will also be lifted on May 24. This would affect places like indoor restaurants, bars, dining areas in camps or in congregate living facilities, and break rooms.   

The Mills administration recommends, in line with the U.S. CDC guidelines, that people who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. Masks are still required on all forms of public transportation.  

For many businesses, this was a breathe of fresh air and sign of hope for the summer season. Funtown Splashtown USA hosted a hiring event Saturday as they prepare for the season. 

Hutchinson says while policies are not yet finalized, he welcomes the news from the governor and is very optimistic for the season. 

That optimism exists at indoor venues as well. At Bangor Mall Cinema, General Manager Scott Warren says they're beginning to prepare for a busy movie season, as studios begin releasing blockbuster films again.

"We're having to get back into the hiring mode. So we're gearing up that way and waiting for the movies to come out. We're pretty much ready," said Warren. 

A few miles down the road at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, General Manager Tony Vail says he is also beginning the hiring process. 

"We're going to have about a month or so, month and half to really get the building cleaned up and prepped and ready," said Vail.

The CIC is currently serving as a vacation site for Northern Light Health, however that ends on May 27. Vails says the Cross Insurance Center will soon be announcing tickets for the venues first event in more than a year when they host PBR bull riding at the end of July. 

Vail says however, a new mask policy has not yet been determined, and he expects initial ticket sales to be sold at a limited capacity. 

"We're going to make sure that whatever we're doing is in accordance with what the City of Bangor is comfortable with. And if that's enforcing mask wearing then we'll do what we've got to do," said Vail. Despite that however, Vail welcomed the Governors new guidelines and is optimistic for upcoming events, and seeing a return to normal.

Those attending events like graduation at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland however, can expect to be required to wear masks, and sit in social distanced seating, for the near future. 

"Social distancing seating, we actually have chairs with tape, and the mask mandate, and for the short term, we'll see how that goes," said Cross Arena Assistant General Manager Mike LoConte. 

LoConte says that the arena may alter its own mask and social distancing guidelines down the road, even as early as graduations slated for the building in June. However, that has yet to be determined.