AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills announced updates to the travel restrictions for visitors coming into Maine on Wednesday. Mills said that based on a careful review of metrics, travelers from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey are now exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement as well as the testing alternative option.
Mills previously announced that travelers from New Hampshire and Vermont were able to travel to Maine without these restrictions as well.
The update will take effect this Friday, July 3.
Mills says the decision comes after the Administration reviewed public health data in other states to determine the appropriateness of additional exemptions. In evaluating these exemptions, the Administration takes into consideration several data measurements, which include but are not limited to, the prevalence of the virus and the positivity rates in other states.
In reviewing these metrics, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, for example, demonstrate a lower positive rate than Maine’s. Additionally, the prevalence of the virus in these states is similar and continues a downward trend.
Mills said based on objective criteria, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey fit the bill to be added to the exemption list, whereas Massachusetts and Rhode Island didn't. Dr. Shah said from an epidemiological standpoint, Massachusetts' positivity rate is a "good bit" higher than in Maine, with 2.5%. In addition, they're having more weekly cases per million, and the same goes for Rhode Island, Dr. Shah said.
Mills continues to strongly recommend that visitors from these states obtain a test before visiting Maine, in order to “Know Before You Go."
Those making reservations for lodging facilities in Maine should advise all visitors that testing is encouraged, even if no longer required for people coming from certain states.
With more people coming to Maine’s coastal towns and cities, Mills says the use of face coverings will become even more important.
Mills said she will also be issuing an Executive Order requiring Maine’s large retail stores, lodging establishments, restaurants, and outdoor bars, and tasting rooms in the coastal counties of Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, and York, and in the more populous cities of Bangor and Brewer and Lewiston and Auburn, to enforce the State’s face covering requirement.
In the last week, states across the country, such as North Carolina, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon, have implemented similar strong measures related to face coverings, given the evidence that masks significantly reduce transmission of the virus.
Mills said the Executive Order to require public-facing businesses to require face coverings reinforces the protocol that businesses should take in order to reopen. She said this requirement will be added to the COVID-19 Prevention Checklists businesses must follow in order to reopen.
Gov. Janet Mills, Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and Commissioner Heather Johnson of the Department of Economic and Community Development joined Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah at the Wednesday coronavirus briefing to discuss the updates.
Watch the briefing here:
“Today I am encouraged as we take another step in reopening our economy and supporting the tourism industry. The decision to add three Northeastern states to the exempt status is welcome news to the Maine Tourism Association and others in the hospitality sector,” Tony Cameron, CEO of Maine Tourism Association, said in a statement. “The industry is committed to following all health protocols set forth in the Keep Maine Healthy plan.”
This story will be updated.
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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