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Mills lifts early closing curfew for Maine businesses starting Feb. 1

The decision comes as Maine's public health metrics are improving, including decreased positivity and case rates.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday announced she will end the mandate that required businesses to close by 9 p.m., effective Feb. 1. The Mills administration says the decision comes as Maine's positivity rate and new COVID-19 cases per million are decreasing. 

Mills imposed the early closing mandate in November ahead of the holiday season in order to help reduce extended public gatherings while allowing businesses to remain open. The mandate was later extended past the holidays as cases and hospitalizations in the state continued to rise. 

But Mills says "We are beginning to round the corner on the post-holiday surge of COVID-19."

On Jan. 13, Maine set a single-day case record with 824 additional cases; on Thursday, the Maine CDC reported an additional 284 cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths.

During Tuesday's coronavirus briefing, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Maine's positivity rate has continued to decrease in recent days. The seven-day PCR test positivity rate currently stands 3.64 percent, a decrease from 5.89 percent on December 31, 2020. Further, Maine’s seven-day new case rate has declined by 35 percent in the last two weeks. 

Similarly, the antigen test positivity rate -- 6.53 percent with a testing volume of 165 tests per 100,000 people -- has been more stable.  

Credit: NCM

"With these improved public health metrics, and with the holidays behind us, it is appropriate to remove the early closing time requirement,” Mills said in a statement. “At the same time, this pandemic is far from over. As we continue to get shots into as many peoples’ arms as quickly and efficiently as possible, it is crucial that Maine people continue to wear masks, watch their distance, and avoid gatherings whenever possible. Doing these basic things will help us put a lid on this virus and get back to normal faster. That will be great for Maine people and great for Maine businesses.”

Mills joined Shah Thursday for the coronavirus update. 

Watch the full briefing here:

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