KITTERY, Maine — Although Gov. Janet Mills put concerns about travel restriction enforcement to rest in her press conference Tuesday night, the Maine State Police are doing their best to make sure Mainers know their troopers’ intentions when seen on the road.
In a Facebook post, state police said they do have troopers detailed on the high-rise bridge on I-95 at the Maine/N.H. border. “NO—They have nothing to do with checkpoints or travel restrictions,” the post says.
Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, told NEWS CENTER Maine the work being done near the border is continuing 24-7, but troopers are only there at night for visibility and safety purposes.
Mills issued a statewide “Stay Healthy at Home” order Tuesday, which will go into effect Thursday and last until at least April 30. The order mandates that all people living in Maine must stay at home at all times unless for an essential job or an essential reason, such as grocery shopping or going to the pharmacy.
Mills is asking people to not only not come to Maine, but to not return if you are currently out of state.
In a press conference Tuesday evening, Mills said, “I cannot simply close the state’s border or pull up the Maine/New Hampshire bridge as a few people have suggested…I will insist that persons entering our state or returning to Maine from someone else, that they self-quarantine for 14 days.” Mills said she would be issuing an additional order in that regard with more details in the next day or so, but for now had a message for people coming to Maine: “You cannot escape the virus by coming here.”
As far as enforcement goes for travel restrictions, Mills and police across Maine say they are not actively pulling over vehicles with out of state license plates. The Executive Order as a whole, however, can be enforced as necessary and violations are a class E crime subject to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
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Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce told NEWS CENTER Maine they are relying on voluntary compliance and education for the time being. Since Portland, South Portland, and Brunswick had issued their own stay home orders before Mills’ statewide order, Joyce said a lot of people have emailed and called with rumors of police stopping people on the roads, but he says that is not the case in Maine yet.
“We don’t want to make this a situation where it’s a police state,” Joyce said. So, for now, they are hoping people take the orders seriously and realize staying home unless for essential purposes is in their best interest.
Mills said, "I beg the people of Maine to be patient, to be tolerant, to act with kindness, compassion, humanity towards your neighbors, your family, your friends, and your community members across the state as we engage in this unusual manner to put to bed this terrible, dangerous, deadly virus."
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