AUGUSTA, Maine — The Mills Administration announced Thursday that, effective immediately, Maine lodging establishments can begin accepting future reservations for stays with an arrival date of June 1 and beyond for Maine residents and for non-residents who comply with the State’s 14-day quarantine requirement.

A previous Executive Order prohibited such reservations. 

However, Mills says lodging establishments that accept reservations must be prepared to cancel and fully refund reservations if these establishments cannot be reopened under Stage 2 as tentatively planned.

The change comes amid ongoing collaboration between the Mills Administration and Maine’s tourism and hospitality sectors to identify solutions to be able to welcome visitors while also protecting the health of Maine people and the health of Maine’s economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The tourism and hospitality industries are vital pillars of Maine’s economy. Although the pandemic has altered how they can operate safely, it has in no way diminished their importance – both to our economy and to us as a state,” Mills said. “We are acting in partnership with the industry to resume reservations while we also work together to evaluate alternatives to the 14-day quarantine, including testing and other protocols, that will allow us to protect Maine residents and tourists during the summer months.”

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The changes again raise questions of how the quarantine requirements will be enforced. On Thursday in the Maine CDC coronavirus briefing, Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said the State is relying on the honor system. While she said the new changes will easily help seasonal residents who have second homes in Maine adhere to the quarantine requirements, for commercial lodging the quarantine requirements must be self-enforced.

The Administration says ultimately, the goal to be able to adjust the 14-day quarantine but to do so in a way that still protects the health of Maine people.

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“Ultimately, we want to adjust the 14-day quarantine in a way that protects the health of Maine people and the health of Maine businesses," Johnson said in a statement.

Under Mills’ April 3 Executive Order, which established quarantine restrictions on travelers entering Maine, lodging establishments were prohibited from accepting new reservations with the exception of essential workers, such as health care workers, and vulnerable populations, including those fleeing domestic violence, homeless individuals and health care and essential workers.

RELATED: Questions answered: Guidelines for 14 day self-quarantine due to coronavirus, COVID-19

The Administration says it is working collaboratively with the tourism and hospitality industries to reexamine the 14-day quarantine requirement based on scientific advancements, best practices, and actions taken by other states.

"The Administration has maintained the previously-established 14-day quarantine – a proven epidemiological strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus – because it is one of the limited number of tools we currently have to effectively protect Maine people against the virus," the Governor's Office said in a press release. "Meanwhile, hot-spots such as New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, states from which Maine draws the majority of its tourists, continue to report a significant number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Additionally, reopening without appropriate health and safety protocols could result in a surge of cases that would only further destabilize these businesses and impact consumer confidence in visiting their locations in the long-term."

The Department of Economic and Community Development also released additional COVID-19 Prevention Checklists for Stage 2 businesses tentatively slated to open in June under the Restarting Maine’s Economy Plan.

The checklists, which provides health and safety guidance that businesses must commit to complying with in order to reopen, for the following have been posted:

  • Lodging
  • Campgrounds
  • Nail salons

The Department plans to post the remaining Checklists on large gatherings, religious gatherings, public/community buildings, fitness centers/gyms, tanning salons, day camps, and overnight camps, as well as links to guidance on non-professional sports on May 20.

RELATED: Maine hospitality industry in hiring limbo

RELATED: Maine vacation destinations offer pay-what-you-can staycations for Mainers amid coronavirus, COVID-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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