AUGUSTA, Maine — Governor Janet Mills said a week ago she was taking aggressive action against the coronavirus, COVID-19 by limiting the size of gatherings and ordering bars and restaurants to close.

But since then, the number of cases of the virus have more than doubled, so on Tuesday, she announced even more aggressive steps.

Mills ordered all “non-essential” businesses to close to the public for two weeks to help limit contact between people and thereby limit the spread of COVID-19.

Non-essential businesses, the Governor said include gyms, hair salons, theaters, and casinos among others.

It also includes a lot of retail stores. The Governor made special mention of continued crowds at some stores, despite the prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people.

“Do not go to the store because it feels like a good thing to do. Go to the store only when you really need something,” said Mills at a Tuesday press briefing. “Stay away from other people. Just because a store is open doesn’t mean it's safe for you to go to."

Mills said she knows the restrictions will cause economic loss, but that more needs to be done to force social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. She said discussions with retailers convinced her more action is still required.

“We must do better,” said Mills. “I'm strongly recommending all such businesses that may sell groceries in one part of the store or pharmacy products in one part of the store, that they immediately employ strategies to reduce congestion in stores. What I'm recommending is stores with physical retail space of more than 5000 square feet. Limit your customers to no more than 100 people at a time...Close-fitting rooms, this is not the time to shop for clothes. “

Mills said for the time being, she is not ready to order a statewide “shelter in place” policy, as s few other states have done.

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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