AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills said last week she would be taking the statewide mask mandate a step further with an Executive Order that requires businesses in Maine's more populous and coastal counties to enforce the mandate. Mills signed the order on Wednesday and took effect immediately.
The order says large retail businesses, restaurants, outdoor bars, tasting rooms, and lodging establishments in Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo, and York counties, as well as the municipalities of Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Brewer, and Lewiston must implement measures requiring customers to wear face coverings.
The order says businesses can do this by denying entry or service for customers not wearing face coverings.
“It is important that we wear face coverings as people begin to interact more and more,” Mills said in a statement. “Doing so can slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the health and safety of those around us, support businesses and allow us to safely reopen our economy. I know it may be inconvenient for some, but I also believe that Maine people care about each other, and this simple gesture is a small price to pay for knowing you could save someone’s life.”
Read the Executive Order here:
An Executive Order was signed in April requiring face coverings in public places where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. The new order strengthens the order already in place, the Mills administration says.
“Research shows that face coverings help limit potential transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19,” Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said. “Wearing a face covering in public places where physical distancing is difficult shows respect for others and reduces the risk that the virus could spread as more people move about Maine.”
The order may be enforced by any governmental department or official that regulates licenses, permits, or otherwise authorizes the operation or occupancy of eating establishments, bars or tasting rooms, lodging operations and accommodations, businesses, buildings, parks, and campgrounds. A violation may be construed to be a violation of any such license, permit, and other authorization to which pertinent penalties, such as a revocation of said licenses or permits, may be assessed.
The Administration has established a reporting form for alleged violations of the State’s health and safety protocols.
On Wednesday Mills also signed an order extending the state's Civil State of Emergency proclamation another 30 days through August 6.
A State of Civil Emergency allows Maine to continue to draw down critical Federal resources and to deploy all available resources to respond to COVID-19. The Governor’s decision to extend the emergency is in line with nearly every other state in the nation, which also have ongoing emergency declarations, according to the National Governors Association.
“As Maine continues to reopen our economy, we must remember this dangerous virus is still among us,” Mills said. “If we stay vigilant and take all necessary precautions to protect ourselves and those around us, like wearing a face covering, washing hands and staying six feet apart, then we can stay safe and healthy and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Maine.”
This is the fourth extension of the State of Civil Emergency. Under Maine law, State of Civil Emergency Proclamations may only be issued in thirty-day increments. It comes as Maine is in Stage 3 of the Restarting Maine’s Economy Plan and has reopened the vast majority of its economy.
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