AUGUSTA, Maine — On Thursday the Trump administration issued new guidelines for states, individuals, and employers on how to ease up on social distancing in areas where COVID-19 is on the decline. The guidelines were published under the headline “Opening Up America Again,” a nod to President Trump’s campaign slogan.
The White House calls for a phased approach and says there is certain criteria states should meet before beginning the phases.
On Friday Maine Gov. Janet Mills issued a response to the President’s guidelines:
“We all want life to return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so. Our hearts break to see closed storefronts and people struggling to make ends meet because of this crisis. At the same time, we all know that reopening too soon and too aggressively will likely cause a secondary surge in COVID 19 cases, jeopardizing the lives of Maine people and further destabilizing the economy. None of us want that. I have been speaking with a number of economic leaders, including the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Their message is clear: the most important thing we can do to turn the economy around is to defeat the virus.
As the President acknowledges, the Governors are in charge of reopening their states’ economies and gradually lifting public health restrictions. Here in Maine, we too are planning a phased-in reopening, tailored to the demographics and various economic sectors of our state. Ultimately, the protocols we adopt, made after consulting with people from all parts of the state, will be guided by fact, science and public health expertise. As the President’s guidelines note, widespread testing, personal protective equipment, and contact tracing are critical to lifting restrictions and reviving the economy; for that reason, the nation’s governors yesterday again urged the Federal government to ensure that all states have these resources.
I remain in contact with Governor Sununu of New Hampshire and Governor Scott of Vermont regarding actions that may be appropriate for the northern New England region. My Administration, through the Department of Economic and Community Development, has been connecting with individual economic sectors across the state to devise a plan for how we gradually reopen the Maine economy. Those decisions, of course, are driven first and foremost by the need to protect the public health. We will release details of the plan in the near future.”
Before Trump unveiled the guidelines, he told the nation's governors "you're going to call your own shots." Trump said on Monday that his “authority is total” to reopen states but backed away after governors pointed out the Constitution does not grant the president that power.
On Friday, one day after releasing the guidelines, in a Tweet storm Trump urged three states to 'LIBERATE,' in effect encouraging protests against stay-at-home orders.
In Maine, thousands are planning a protest at the State Capitol in August for Monday, April 20, led by ReOpen Maine and Mainers Against Excessive Quarantine, to "peacefully protest against lockdown restrictions continuing beyond 5/1."
"We will have endured nearly 7 weeks of lockdown when May 1 arrives," the groups said in a press release. "It is not sustainable to continue this lockdown as the economic and societal consequences will be irreversible."
The Governor's Office did not immediately respond to NEWS CENTER Maine's request for comment on the planned protest.
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
NEWS CENTER Maine Coronavirus Coverage