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Maine governor extends stay-at-home order through May, details plan for reopening state

Two pedestrians crossed Congress Street in nearly-deserted downtown Portland, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty/AP/file

Maine’s stay-at-home order will be extended until June, but a four-phase plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy will begin in May, Governor Janet Mills announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement came hours after the Maine Center for Disease Control reported no new deaths and 17 confirmed coronavirus cases. So far, the state has seen 51 coronavirus-related deaths and 1,040 cases. The stay-at-home order, originally slated to expire at the end of April, will now e.

“The hard truth is that things are not normal, and they will likely not be normal any time soon,” Mills said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

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Stage 1 of Mills’s plan to reopen the state begins May 1. During this stage, residents will be allowed to visit businesses that are deemed safe to operate, such as barber shops, drive-in movie theaters, and state parks. The plan does not take into consideration whether a business is essential or non-essential, only whether the risk of transmission is low.

“While this plan presents a path forward for gradually and safely restarting our economy, it should not lure Maine people into thinking that this pandemic is almost over or that things will be back to normal soon,” Mills said.

When life in Maine returns to a “new normal” depends greatly on the month-by-month success of each stage, Mills said.

If no new coronavirus trends spark, Stage 2 will commence in June. During this stage, the limit on gatherings to 10 or fewer people would increase to 50 or fewer people. Some employees may be able to return to offices, and restaurants and fitness centers could open.

Stage 3 is slated to begin in July and stretch through August. The limit on gatherings to 50 people or fewer will stand, but places like hotels, bars, and personal services such as tattoo parlors or spas could reopen.

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Stage 4, the final phase, would lift most statewide restrictions and “will start at some point to be determined in the future,” according to the governor’s website.

“The health and safety of Maine people will guide each phase of this process,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC. “We’ll continue to work closely with our colleagues at DECD on an approach that balances the health of Maine’s people with the health of our economy.”

Officials believe the state is flattening the coronavirus curve, as shown by the gradual decrease in cases and deaths in recent days. Only two additional people in the state were hospitalized Tuesday, according to the Maine CDC. A total of 33 patients are currently in the hospital.

Of the hospitalized patients, 17 are in critical care and seven are on ventilators, officials said. Throughout the state, 158 ICU beds and 314 ventilators are available.

Of the total confirmed cases, 585 people have recovered, an uptick of 36 since Monday, officials said.

Cumberland County has reported the most deaths in the state with 24, officials said. Waldo County has reported the second most with 11 deaths, followed by York with seven, Kennebec with six, Androscoggin with two, and Franklin with one.

Cumberland has reported 466 coronavirus cases, also the most of any county in Maine, officials said. York and Waldo trail with 200 cases and 103 cases, respectively.

Matt Berg can be reached at matthew.berg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.

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