COVID-19: Governor Mills Eases Restrictions in Preparation for Maine’s Tourism Season, Maintains Public Health Measures

On March 5, 2021, Governor Janet Mills issued Executive Order 35 (FY 20/21) in an effort to prepare Maine’s economy for the upcoming tourism season while also seeking to protect the health and safety of Maine’s residents. The new “Moving Maine Forward Plan” maintains health and safety protocols currently in place, while easing capacity limits on businesses to support economic activity. The plan also eases the test or quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors. An overview of the Moving Maine Forward Plan follows.

Maintaining Public Health Protocols

The plan maintains the industry-specific health and safety protocols - such as wearing face coverings, keeping physical distance, and conducting enhanced cleaning- throughout the summer, as implemented through the COVID-19 Prevention Checklists .

New Capacity Limits

The plan eases the capacity limits on Maine’s businesses by transitioning to a “percentage of capacity model consistent across all sectors” over the course of the next few months. The changes to indoor gathering limits and in-store customer limits are as follows:

  • Indoor gatherings: the percentage of capacity will increase to 50 percent starting March 26, 2021 and 75 percent starting May 24, 2021.
  • Outdoor gatherings: the percentage of capacity will increase to 75 percent starting March 26, 2021 and 100 percent starting May 24, 2021.
  • Businesses with greater capacity under the current policy (50 people for indoor gatherings; 100 people for outdoor gatherings; or 5 people per 1,000 square feet) are permitted to maintain that standard through May 24, 2021.

These new capacity limits are subject to change should the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) determine that Maine's hospital capacity is challenged or a new COVID-19 variant arises that poses “significant risk in Maine.”

Additionally, the plan allows bars and tasting rooms to reopen on March 26, 2021, although they will still be required to operate under the Seated Food and Drink Service COVID-19 Prevention Checklist.

Updating Maine’s Travel Policy

Effective immediately, the plan adds travelers to and from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to the list of states exempt from the test or quarantine requirement. Travelers to and from New Hampshire and Vermont were already exempted. Additionally, the plan exempts those who are fully vaccinated or who have had the COVID-19 virus. Federal requirements related to international travel remain in effect.

Effective May 1, 2021, the plan lifts the test or quarantine requirement for all states except those singled out by the Maine CDC as having a high prevalence of highly contagious COVID-19 variants. Travelers to and from those states will still be required to either test or quarantine.

For questions on Maine’s new plan, or any issue or concern related to your business, please contact firm attorneys Ann Robinson, or Newell Augur.