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Mills revises reopening plan ahead of Memorial Day weekend

Gov. Janet Mills now says Mainers can enjoy campgrounds beginning Memorial Day weekend; but is delaying the full reopening of gyms, fitness centers, and nail salons.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Governor Janet Mills announced revisions to her plan to reopen the Maine economy on Tuesday. Mills now says Maine residents may enjoy campgrounds beginning Memorial Day weekend. The Mills Administration is also delaying the full reopening of gyms, fitness centers, and nail salons "salons in light of emerging research and experiences in other states of COVID-19 transmission related to these establishments," the Administration said in a press release.

“We believe allowing private campgrounds to open with strict health and safety precautions to Maine residents minimizes risks while supporting mental and physical health, particularly during the long Memorial Day weekend,” Mills said. 

Campgrounds, including RV parks, may now reopen with enhanced health and safety precautions to Maine residents only beginning on Friday, May 22, 2020, an acceleration of the previously identified reopening date of June 1, which was originally part of the second phase of the plan. 

This change is similar to the current policies of New Hampshire and Vermont regarding campgrounds. 

Campgrounds that follow the COVID-19 Prevention Checklist guidance can offer Maine residents of all ages an opportunity to safely hike, fish, bird watch, star gaze, boat, and swim this weekend that marks the start of summer. 

RELATED: Here’s what you need to know about the reopening of some of Maine’s best state parks

The Mills Administration's decision to delay the full reopening of gyms and fitness centers, originally scheduled for June 1 (Stage 2), came in light of new studies raising concerns about the transmission of the virus in such settings due to large numbers of people in relatively small spaces with moist, warm atmospheres coupled with turbulent airflow generated by intense physical exercise. Gyms and fitness centers are currently allowed to conduct outside classes of fewer than 10 participants and one-on-one instruction inside.

“We also believe that it is appropriate to delay the reopening of gyms and nail salons, both of which appear to present a greater risk of transmission of the virus based on emerging science and the experiences of other states. It is important that the plan remain flexible and that we take steps to update it when necessary in order to both protect public health and support our economy.”

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Additionally, the Mills Administration is delaying the re-opening of nail salons, also originally scheduled for June 1 (Stage 2), after the State of California identified the establishments as a source of COVID-19 community transmission. The Administration says that while claims continue to be reviewed, some preliminary evidence suggests that the close, face-to-face contact between clients and professionals could increase the risk of transmission. The State is assessing the evidence and expects to announce new re-start dates for nail salons and indoor gyms and fitness centers in early June.

“We continuously review evidence nationwide and in Maine to guide our actions to safely restart Maine’s economy,” Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “As we did today, we expect to both slow down and accelerate different types of activities based on this evidence and trends within Maine to keep our state safe and strong.”

Lambrew and Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, joined Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah in the daily coronavirus briefing Tuesday to discuss the changes in more detail and answer questions from the media. 

“We appreciate the ongoing partnership with the business community,” Johnson said. “This is an incredibly difficult time for businesses, and we appreciate their creativity as we work together to develop solutions that keep people safe and create opportunities for businesses.”

Aside from these updates to the plan to restart the Maine economy, there are no other changes at this time. 

RELATED: Real-time Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 updates: Tuesday, May 19

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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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