Maine Governor Janet Mills on Wednesday ordered that bars and restaurants in the state close to dine-in customers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The order, Mills’s office said in a statement, takes effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and will last until midnight on Mar. 31. Take-out, delivery and drive-thru service can continue, according to Mills’s office. She also barred gatherings of more than 10 people until further notice.
Maine officials separately announced Wednesday that there are now 43 positive coronavirus cases in the state, including 30 confirmed cases and 13 presumptive positive cases. The tally stood at 32 positive cases Tuesday.
“I do not take these steps [regarding closures] lightly,” Mills said in Wednesday’s statement, adding that “COVID-19 continues to spread across Maine and more aggressive action is required to mitigate that spread and to protect the health and welfare of Maine people.”
Mills said her administration remains "committed to working with businesses whose operations are affected by COVID-19. I continue to strongly urge all Maine people to take seriously the threat of this virus and to practice social distancing. We all have a responsibility to do our part.”
Mills’s office added that she “strongly” urges non-essential “public facing” businesses such as gyms, hair salons, theaters, casinos, and shopping malls to close for the next two weeks.
The statement said her recommendation doesn’t apply to businesses providing essential services such as food processing; agriculture; industrial manufacturing; construction; trash collection; grocery and household goods; home repair, hardware and auto repair; pharmacies and other medical facilities; biomedical and health care; child care; post offices and shipping outlets; insurance; banks; gas stations; laundromats; veterinary clinics and animal feed and supply stores; shipping stores; public transportation; and hotel and commercial lodging.
Officials said that while such businesses can remain open, but anyone working or visiting the establishments should implement social distancing, and customers should “be thoughtful” about going to such businesses.
The governor’s office said businesses such as legal services, consulting,and professional and insurance services are encouraged to have employees work remotely or, if that’s not possible, to practice social distancing.
Mills also signed an emergency bill into law Wednesday that grants her access to at least $11 million for coronavirus response, the statement said. The bill also provides $1 million to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to “support public health nurses and cover costs of lab tests and other response efforts not otherwise federally funded,” the statement said.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.