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Citing data trends, Gov. Mills' administration accelerates business openings in rural Maine counties

The changes take effect June 12 in all Maine counties other than York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin.

MAINE, USA — Governor Janet Mills' administration announced Thursday additional business reopenings under the Governor’s rural reopening plan.

Under the update, in 13 counties, tasting rooms and bars may open for outside service and gyms, fitness centers, nail salons, and tattoo and piercing parlors may open with added health and safety precautions beginning on Friday, June 12. These establishments may reopen in all counties except for York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin Counties.

This update accelerates the reopening of bars and tasting rooms for outside service, as well as the reopening of tattoo and piercing parlors, all which were originally scheduled to reopen statewide as part of Stage 3 (July 1). It also allows gyms, fitness centers, and nail salons to resume operations in these 13 counties. 

According to Mills, these updates come in light of low case count trends in these thirteen counties where the relative small number of cases has largely either remained steady or decreased. These businesses must comply with added health and safety precautions in the form of COVID-19 Prevention Checklists as a condition of voluntary reopening.

The developments comes as the Mills Administration also works to provide an alternative to the state’s 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors. Some tourism business owners have expressed to NEWS CENTER Maine that they believe they could lose up to 90% of guests with the quarantine policy in place.

RELATED: Mills' new 'COVID passport' plan could help out-of-staters avoid 14-day quarantine

“Nearly a month after many businesses in these thirteen counties reopened, we continue to see low case counts in those counties,” Mills said. “As a result, we are accelerating the reopening of some additional businesses in these areas, but with added health and safety precautions. I continue to urge Maine people to take steps to protect themselves and others, including wearing a face covering, staying six feet apart whenever possible, and practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands frequently. As we continue to gradually reopen, steps like these will be critical to protecting not only ourselves but others as well.”

The Department of Economic and Community Development also posted statewide Stage 2 COVID-19 Prevention Checklists Thursday for businesses. Additionally, in response to feedback from businesses and public health experts, the department has also updated guidance for some businesses that are already open. 

RELATED: Phase 2 of Maine's reopening plan begins, as businesses can still deny service to those without face coverings

The checklists, written in close collaboration with industry leaders and public health experts, outline health and safety guidance that businesses and activity organizers must commit to comply with in order to reopen as part of the Administration’s Restarting Maine’s Economy Plan. 

“The good work that Maine people have done to fight COVID-19 and take health precautions seriously allow us to take another important step forward,” Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson said. “I am optimistic that these reopening steps will help businesses while continue to protect the health of Maine people.”

The department has also added individual sectors that may safely operate utilizing existing checklists for clarity purposes. Examples include photography and film businesses may operate utilizing the “general guidance” and mini-golf may operate using the “community sports” checklist.

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