The recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and the doubling of the positivity rate prompted Governor Janet T. Mills to announce today measures intended to contain the spread of the deadly virus in Maine.
Starting Wednesday, November 4, indoor gatherings will return to a maximum of 50 people, regardless of capacity. The gathering limit on outdoor activities remains at 100 people under existing guidelines, with physical distancing and the use of face coverings. Occupancy limits for retail establishments will remain at 5 people per 1,000 square fee of shopping space. The Mills Administration had previously increased indoor seating limits to 50% of permitted capacity or 100 people, whichever was less.
A second reversal of plans is that the reopening of bars and tasting rooms planned for Monday, November 2, has been postponed until further notice. “To the business owners and employees of bars and tasting rooms, I am deeply sorry that we have been forced to prevent the further spread of the virus. I know that you were ready and willing to follow public health guidance to keep yourselves and Maine people safe. We realize that this decision will cause hardship. We do not take this action lightly, but the rapid rise in cases in just the past six days means that we cannot in good conscious proceed with the planned reopening,” said Governor Mills in her announcement today. “My Administration will continue to do all we can to support Maine’s small businesses and hardworking families through these challenging times and will continue to seek further financial relief from Congress for Maine businesses who have lost so much already.”
A third revision announced today by the Governor also effective Wednesday, November 4, 2020 concerns people traveling from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. They are no longer exempt from Maine’s quarantine or negative test equipment. People coming here from these states must either quarantine for fourteen days or receive a negative COVID-19 test with a sample taken less than seventy-two hours from arrival in Maine, quaranting while awaiting test results. This protocol incudes Maine residents returning from one of the non-exempt states.
The Mills Administration also recently announced it will distribute 400,000 rapid antigen tests, including 300,000 provided to up to 65 Walgreens pharmacy locations from Kittery to Madawaska. Testing will be available to the public at no charge as a drive-through service at a later date in November.
As of Friday, October 30, Maine saw 103 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day increase in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic. Yesterday, Saturday, October 31, saw 98 new cases and one person lost her life to the virus. Additionally, Maine’s seven day positivity rate, while still significantly lower than other states, doubled over the last two weeks to 0.92 percent.
Nationally, the weekend saw more than nine million cases of COVID-19, and more than 230,000 deaths – about four times the number of Americans soldiers who perished during the entire Vietnam War.
“If we do not control this outbreak, we may never get this evil genie back in the bottle,” exhorted Governor Mills in the press release. “With the vast majority of Maine’s economy reopened under Stage 4 of the restarting Maine’s Economy Plan, it is critical that Maine people take steps to protect themselves, their businesses and others by wearing face coverings, indoors and outdoors, keeping 6 feet apart and washing hands often with soap and warm water. The Administration also encourages employers to allow employees to work remotely whenever practicable and encourage Maine people to patronize Maine businesses by ordering curbside and using delivery services.”
Please see post herein dated October 28, 2020 for more information on the rise of COVID-19 cases in Maine.