AUGUSTA, Maine — Editor's note: The above video is a NEWS CENTER Maine VERIFY on why the government requiring people to wear face masks does not violate constitutional rights.
It may feel like every day a new coronavirus, COVID-19 related order is put in place or an old one expires—it can get a little confusing. So, here’s a list of the important orders that are still in place statewide you should know about.
Civil State of Emergency:
On Wednesday, July 8, Gov. Janet Mills extended the proclamation of a Civil State of Emergency for Maine 30 days through August 6. This was her fourth extension of the proclamation.
It’s important to note this is separate from the stay-at-home order—we’ll go into the details of that order later—and they’re separate directives. The proclamation simply allows the State to continue to draw critical Federal funds and gives the State the ability to deploy all available resources to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in Maine.
Under Maine law, State of Civil Emergency Proclamations may only be issued in thirty-day increments.
Stay Safer at Home:
The statewide stay-at-home order was put into effect on April 2. It was later extended to May 31, but just before it expired the Governor put a new order in place that eased the stay-at-home restrictions. This order is in effect until it’s rescinded.
Here’s an outline of the eased order:
- Eased the restrictions on certain gatherings from 10 to 50 beginning June 1 consistent with the restarting plan.
- Eased restrictions on eating establishments permitted to reopen and maintains restrictions on those not yet authorized to reopen consistent with the restarting plan.
- Phased out the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses consistent with the implementation of the restarting plan.
- Continued to require businesses to the extent practicable as determined by businesses to have their employees work remotely.
- Continued but relaxed Maine’s “Stay Safer at Home” Order, which has Maine people stay-at-home with exceptions, allowing people to visit more businesses and participate in more activities as they reopen under the restarting plan.
- Maintained previously established restrictions on use of public transportation, unless necessary for essential purposes, and continues to limit passengers in certain private vehicles.
- Effective June 5, requires places of business accessible to the public to post readily visible signs notifying customers of the requirement to wear cloth face coverings where physical distancing is not possible, as many already have, and allows them to deny entry or service to a person not wearing a covering and who is exempt from doing so.
Keep Maine Healthy Plan:
The order issued on June 9 deals with travelers coming into Maine. It says that all those who travel to Maine from other states, other than New Hampshire and Vermont, must either: have a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 14-days upon arrival. Effective July 1, tourists will have to sign a certificate of compliance when they check into a hotel, motel, or other lodging confirming that they've had a COVID-19 test within the previous 72-hours and that it was negative.
On July 1 Mills expanded this exemption to include New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Face Coverings Mandate:
An Executive Order was signed in April requiring face coverings in public places where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Mills signed a new order on Wednesday, July 8 that strengthened the order already in place.
The order says large retail businesses, restaurants, outdoor bars, tasting rooms, and lodging establishments in Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo, and York counties, as well as the municipalities of Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Brewer, and Lewiston must implement measures requiring customers to wear face coverings.
On Friday, July 17, Mills announced a series of steps her administration is taking to assist and support school systems across Maine as they consider whether and how to return to in-classroom instruction this fall.
The Maine Department of Education, in close partnership with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), has updated its “Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction” to include health and safety precautions that all schools must follow if they decide to return to in-classroom instruction to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.
The Governor also announced that these science-based protocols, which follow national best practices and include the use of face coverings and physical distancing, will be financially supported by up to $165 million in Federal CARES Act funding that she has authorized to be distributed to school systems across Maine.
The Maine Department of Education has yet to release a final plan on schools reopening in the fall.
Restarting Maine's Economy:
On June 22, Mills delayed the reopening of bars for indoor service across Maine. Bars have been able to reopen for outdoor service and were tentatively scheduled to reopen for indoor service on July 1 as part of Stage 3 of the Restarting Maine's Economy Plan.
The Mills administration says, however, that given the elevated health risk presented by bars, the timeline to allow indoor service is postponed "until further notice."
Restaurants in all counties were able to reopen for dine-in service on June 17.
State 1 (all counties): May
Construction, drive-in theaters, health care, outdoor recreation, personal services like dog grooming and hair salons, outdoor fitness classes, real estate, religious gatherings, car dealerships and car washes, and transportation.
Stage 1 (Rural counties): May/June
May 11: retail businesses
May 18: Restaurants for dine-in and outdoor service, campsites and sporting camps
June 12: Bars and tasting rooms (outdoor service only), Tattoo, Body Piercing, Electrolysis, and Micropigmentation Establishments
Stage 2: June
While previously limited to 10 people, group gatherings can now consist of up to 50 people (with physical distancing regulations still in place). Groups traveling in a vehicle should still consist only of people living in the same home. Employees in legal and professional fields may return to offices, including State employees, as needed.
List of services and business allowed to reopen under Stage 2:
- Public gatherings at places such as museums and community buildings
- Restaurants for dine-in service
- Lodging: open to Mainers and out-of-state residents who meet requirements
- Campgrounds/RV parks
- Day camps and summer recreation
- State park campgrounds
- Community sports
- Nail technicians
- Tanning salons
- Gyms and fitness centers
- All retail businesses
Stage 3: July-August
Stage 3 maintains the prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people and the 14-day quarantine or the alternative set out in the Keep Maine Healthy plan on people entering Maine. All businesses that have been open may remain open.
There is no set date for when bars and tasting rooms for dine-in service can reopen.
Other industries and businesses may reopen by following checklist standards.
Outdoor recreation: Overnight charter boats, excursions – fewer than 50 people, and overnight summer Camps
- Tattoo, Body Piercing, Electrolysis, and Micropigmentation Establishments (for Androscoggin, Cumberland, and York counties)
- Massage Facilities
- Cosmetologists and Estheticians
- Laser Hair Removal Services, and Similar Personal Care and Treatment Facilities and Services
Rent Relief Program:
The Governor and MaineHousing extended the Rent Relief Program that was put into place due to the coronavirus pandemic. The program, established in April, allows households that meet certain income and ability to pay requirements to receive a one-time, up to $500 payment in rental assistance to be paid directly to their landlord. With the extension, the program now covers rent for the months of April, May, or June.
The order also prevents the immediate eviction of tenants other than those who engage in dangerous or unlawful conduct for the duration of the state of emergency.
CLICK HERE for a complete list of the Governor's Executive Orders.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
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