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As COVID rates surge, Mills extends early closing requirement for restaurants, bars, certain businesses

Mills says the extension will help curb late-night gatherings 'where we are more likely to lower our guard.'

AUGUSTA, Maine — Editor's Note: The above video aired Nov. 20, 2020.

As Maine's positivity rate for COVID-19 reaches 5.43 percent over the past week, Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday extended a requirement that restaurants, bars, and certain other businesses close by 9 p.m. each night.

The requirement, which took effect Nov. 20, t was set to expire Jan. 3, 2021, but will continue until further notice, according to a release from Mills' office.

“With more people getting sick, going to the hospital, and dying from COVID-19 in Maine, it is clear we cannot afford to relax this rule now, especially as we wait to see the full impact of the holiday season on the rate of the virus transmission in our state,” Mills said in the release. “Maintaining an early closing time for businesses will keep them open for the majority of their operating hours while curbing late-night gatherings where we are more likely to lower our guard. I encourage all Maine people who want to sustain their favorite small business through these winter months to continue to order take out or delivery which is still allowed after closing time.”

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, continued his plea that Mainers limit non-essential interactions, wear masks in public, stay at least six feet apart and wash their hands frequently.

"The more we can do to limit transmission now, the more effective our ongoing vaccination effort will be," Shah said in the release.

Currently, 177 Mainers are hospitalized with COVID-19, including 48 patients in intensive care.

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