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June 5, 2020

Maine's rural reopening speeds up as COVID-19 cases in some counties trend down

Photo / Maureen Milliken The state's accelerated rural reopening continues as COVID-19 cases in 13 counties stay flat or decrease.

More businesses in 13 of the state's 16 counties can reopen in light of low or decreasing COVID-19 case trends, Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday.

State officials are are also working to provide an alternative to the required 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors, according to Thursday's news release. It didn't elaborate on a timeline or specifics.

Included in the Friday, June 12, reopening, which originally was set for July 1, are gyms and fitness centers, nail salons, and tattoo and piercing parlors. It also speeds up the opening of bars and tasting rooms for outside service.

Reopening for more businesses in York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties is still on hold as COVID-19 cases, including those spread by community transmission, increase.

The release stressed that businesses must comply with added health and safety precautions spelled out in the COVID-19 Prevention Checklists posted the Department of Economic and Community Development website as a condition of reopening. The department has posted some new checklists as well as updated others after getting feedback from those in the industry, the release said.

“The good work that Maine people have done to fight COVID-19 and take health precautions seriously allow us to take another important step forward,” said Heather Johnson, DECD commissioner. “I am optimistic that these reopening steps will help businesses while continue to protect the health of Maine people.” 

The state has also added guidance for individual sectors that may safely operate using existing checklists for clarity purposes. Examples include photography and film businesses, which may use the “general guidance,” and mini-golf, which can operate using the “community sports” checklist. 

New checklists posted Thursday include:

  • Driver education schools
  • Gyms and fitness centers 
  • Tattoo and piercing parlors
  • Barbering and cosmetology schools 

Updated checklists include:

  • Retail
  • Inland fish and wildlife outdoor activities
  • Specific guidance for charter boats instead of using outdoor activities 
  • Marinas 

"I continue to urge Maine people to take steps to protect themselves and others, including wearing a face covering, staying six feet apart whenever possible, and practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands frequently," Mills said in the release. "As we continue to gradually reopen, steps like these will be critical to protecting not only ourselves but others as well.” 

“Maine people and businesses have demonstrated that  taking critical health and safety precautions can keep our infection and hospitalization rates low,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Department of Health and Human Services commissioner. “As we continue to move forward with a gradual reopening plan grounded in science, these steps are even more important  protecting the health and safety of all Maine people.” 

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