For months you couldn’t get there from here -- unless you had a coronavirus test or were willing to quarantine for 14 days.
But Massachusetts residents who want to leaf-peep, ski, or toast their feet by the fire are now allowed to travel to Maine without those pandemic restrictions, Governor Janet Mills’s administration announced Wednesday.
Maine officials said the decision came after the latest review of public health information by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that Massachusetts now resembles states like Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey in its success in fighting the deadly virus.
“Protecting the health and safety of Maine people has always been our first and foremost goal,” Mills said in a statement. “We congratulate our friends to the south on their progress in mitigating the spread of the virus and ask them to continue to take all the appropriate precautions, as we know they will, to protect their health and safety and that of Maine people.”
The change was effective immediately. Massachusetts residents join Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Vermont residents in being exempt from the test or quarantine requirements when they go to Maine. The exemption also applies to Maine residents returning from trips to the exempt states. Rhode Island is among the 43 other states that are not exempt.
“Maine’s policy has helped us protect our residents from COVID-19 while maintaining safe travel to and from other states,” Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in the statement. “We welcome Massachusetts' addition to exempt states while urging extra caution for travelers coming or returning to Maine from other states.”
Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson said in the statement, "Massachusetts visitors play a key role in our tourism economy. We are hopeful for a strong fall tourism season as well as a robust ski season, and we are looking forward to Massachusetts residents being able to safely visit Maine.”
“Recent data show that the transmission risk in Massachusetts is similar to that in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “We still recommend that people traveling from those states to Maine take advantage of readily available testing options as the best way to ensure the safety of Maine residents and visitors.”
Shah had said two weeks ago that Maine wasn’t ready yet to lift the restrictions on Massachusetts but was studying the numbers.
On Tuesday Governor Mills announced that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has broadened its Standing Order to allow anyone in Maine to get tested for COVID-19 without the need for a separate order from a health care provider, state officials said.
Visitors can find COVID-19 testing sites near them via the website https://get-tested-covid19.org/, officials said.
Martin Finucane can be reached at email@example.com.