Governor Janet Mills announced changes to her plan to reopen Maine’s economy Friday during a press conference with Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah and the commissioners of Maine’s health and economic development departments. The “Rural Reopening” plan introduced Friday expedites the reopening of retail and restaurant businesses in most Maine counties.
Under the plan, certain businesses in rural Maine counties where community transmission is not present will be permitted to open sooner than the initial timeline released by Governor Mills on April 28. In Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, retail stores may open to in-store customers on Monday, May 11.
To open, these stores must adopt the health and safety guidelines the state also released Friday as part of its COVID-19 Prevention Checklists. These measures include restricting the number of customers in the store at any one time, improving sanitation practices and maximizing touch-free transactions wherever possible, among other measures.
In these same counties, restaurants are permitted to open on May 18 to outdoor dining and limited dine-in service. These businesses must also comply with new safety precautions issued by the state, which include physically distancing customers, using single-serve condiments, and shutting down common food areas like salad bars.
In addition, wilderness campsites and sporting camps will be allowed to reopen on May 18 in these same counties.
In Androscoggin, Cumberland, Penobscot and York counties where community transmission of COVID-19 is present, business must continue to follow the original reopening plan laid out by the governor. The next round of business reopenings do not occur until June 1.
Governor Mills also made a slight adjustment to the statewide reopening plan, allowing fitness and exercise centers to open throughout the state on May 11. These businesses may open for outdoor classes of no more than 10 people, or for one-on-one personal training instruction inside.
While changes to the governor’s plan that allow more businesses to reopen sooner than originally scheduled are welcome, many will feel this is what the state’s reopening plan should have looked like from the beginning.