AUGUSTA, Maine — On Wednesday the Mills Administration added Massachusetts to the list of states that are exempt from travel restrictions and the testing alternative requirement.
Vermont and New Hampshire became the first states to be exempt from Maine's restrictions in June, and Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey were added a month later, leaving Massachusetts and Rhode Island as the only New England states not exempt.
Effective immediately, travelers coming to Maine from Mass. won't be required to quarantine for 14 days or provide a recent negative COVID-19 test, although the State recommends travelers get tested prior to their arrival to protect the health and safety of Mainers and visitors. This change includes Maine residents who may be traveling back to Maine from Massachusetts after visits for services such as health care.
“Protecting the health and safety of Maine people has always been our first and foremost goal,” Gov. Janet Mills said. “We congratulate our friends to the south on their progress in mitigating the spread of the virus and ask them to continue to take all the appropriate precautions, as we know they will, to protect their health and safety and that of Maine people.”
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says the decision comes after their recent review of public health information, which determined that Mass. now resembles exempt states like Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey in its COVID-19 prevalence and positivity rate.
Maine has been exempt from Massachusetts' quarantine requirement since June 30. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker had previously expressed his confusion over Mass. not being exempted given their positive test rate.
In July when Mass. and R.I. were left out of the exemptions, Mills and Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said their reasoning relied on epidemiological data and the states didn’t “fit the bill” in terms of their COVID-19 data.
Currently, Massachusetts' 7-day positivity rate is 0.8%.
“Recent data show that the transmission risk in Massachusetts is similar to that in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey,” Dr. Shah said. “We still recommend that people traveling from those states to Maine take advantage of readily available testing options as the best way to ensure the safety of Maine residents and visitors.”
Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson said Mass. plays a key role in Maine's tourism economy.
“We are hopeful for a strong fall tourism season as well as a robust ski season, and we are looking forward to Massachusetts residents being able to safely visit Maine," Johnson said.
Mass. has a total of 125,866 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, with 9,118 total deaths.