Public Maine areas should require masks amid coronavirus, COVID-19

The executive order also clarifies that claiming a medical exemption is not an excuse to enter or stay in a facility without a face covering.

AUGUSTA, Maine – Editor’s Note: The above video aired on July 2, 2020

With widespread community transmission and the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maine, Governor Janet Mills signed an executive order on Friday that simplifies and strengthens the enforcement of state requirements for face covering. In the future, owners and operators of all indoor public spaces – regardless of the type of facility or size – must not allow those who refuse to wear a face covering to enter or stay in their venue. Previous executive orders had to be enforced in some, but not all, public institutions.

The governor also warned that tighter restrictions, including reduced meeting limits or shop closures, may be needed to better control the spread of COVID-19, although these are options of last resort, especially given the lack of support from the federal government for workers and businesses Companies .

“Without the closings of businesses and schools and the obligation of people to stay home which is the last thing I want to do, especially on vacation, we are running out of public health tools available to help spread the COVID Decrease -19 in Maine. Hospital stays are increasing, more people are getting sick and more people are dying, ”said Mills. “We know masks can stop the spread. But we need people to wear them. This Executive Order is designed to ensure that we are protecting the people in the stores, protecting the business people, and keeping the people of Maine healthy. “

Wearing a face covering has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 significantly, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged all Americans to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In Maine, face-covering is required for people in a public setting. Previously, retail stores with more than 50,000 square feet of retail space – along with restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, social clubs, and lodging and accommodation – had to wear face covers to customers and refuse entry if customers refused. Now, all indoor public space owners and operators, regardless of the type or size of business, must refuse entry to those who refuse. Earlier this week, Mills placed a call with retail stores to discuss the change, saying that increased enforcement was needed to keep the people of Maine safe.

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In addition, communities empowered to enforce the use of face coverings on streets and sidewalks, in parks and other public spaces such as town halls where individuals gather must deny access to indoor public spaces to those who are not faced .

The executive order also clarifies that claiming a medical exemption is not an excuse to enter or stay in a facility without a face covering. This comes from reports from retailers of people who abuse the exemption. There are reasonable precautions for people with disabilities to protect them and others in public facilities from COVID-19.

“Maine retailers, grocers, and restaurants employ one in four people in Maine. That means you have a family member, friend, or neighbor who depends on this job to survive, ”said Curtis Picard, President and CEO of the Retail Association of Maine. “If you’re not wearing a mask, don’t try to go into a store. It’s that simple: no mask, no service, no exceptions. “

While the state always seeks voluntary compliance first and is encouraged by the vast majority of people and businesses in Maine who take the virus seriously, the Mills administration has been communicating with law enforcement agencies, many of whom are willing to assist shop workers when they encounter difficulties in enforcing the face-covering requirement.

In the event of non-compliance, the state has the option of challenging a facility’s license to operate, and violating executive orders is a Class E crime that can be punished with a prison term of up to 180 days and a fine of $ 1,000. Those who are made aware of the face covering requirement and insist on entering a facility may be removed and charged with entering by law enforcement agencies.

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In addition, Mill said she donated $ 100,000 to the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Maine to continue the “Keep It Maine” campaign. The campaign will promote messages from those directly affected by COVID-19 to highlight the importance of basic public health precautions. In addition, DHHS is helping Holiday Ambassadors, similar to this summer’s Beach Ambassadors, to provide information and face coverings in shopping areas in Portland and other locations during the season.

The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maine has increased significantly over the past month, while the state’s 7-day positivity rate, although lower than other states, has been 4.70 in the past seven days, a marked increase up from 2.47 a month ago.

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“It’s important for the people of Maine to follow steps that we know will limit the spread of COVID-19 – they wear face-covering, stay six feet apart, and wash their hands frequently,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Maine DHHS commissioner. “The more we contain the virus now, the more effective our vaccination efforts will be. Let us continue. Let’s keep it in Maine. “

“Wearing face covers in public, staying at least two meters away from you, and avoiding unnecessary interactions with people outside of your household are the best ways that Maine people protect themselves and others from the virus said Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said. “A growing body of research shows that wearing a face covering not only reduces the chances of passing the virus on to others. It can reduce your risk of infection when exposed to the virus. “

“Companies in Maine take their role in adhering to critical health precautions and protocols very seriously, especially given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases,” said Dana Connors, president of the Maine Chamber of Commerce. “Protecting the health of the people of Maine and our state’s workforce also protects Maine’s economic health, and wearing a mask is one of the easiest and most effective ways to do it. It’s simple: if you’re interested in doing business in Maine, wear a mask. “

“This is another key step in slowing the spread of COVID-19, protecting employees and keeping Maine business open,” said Heather Johnson, commissioner for the Department of Economic and Community Development. “It is important that all people of Maine take this responsibility seriously and do their part by wearing a mask every time they leave their home.”

“People with disabilities, including myself, reject recent attempts to abuse our identities and abuse our vital and highly competitive civil rights protection as a form of misguided civil disobedience.” Kim Moody, executive director of Disability Rights Maine, said. “The vast majority of people with disabilities in Maine wear face coverings in the community because it is safer and smarter. And we want others to do the same because many of us have weakened immune systems or otherwise fall into risk categories. “

“As coronavirus cases escalate in Maine, community officials across the state are urging citizens to wear masks to protect their fellow citizens, who include urban workers who provide vital local services,” said Christine Landes, president of the Maine Municipal Association and Gardiner City Manager. “Please help protect those who protect and serve us – our first responders, snowploughters, civil servants and other city workers by following Governor Mills’ simplified masking orders.”

“Wearing a face cover is an easy step in reducing the spread of COVID-19. In a public setting, wearing a face covering is not only useful, it is required and enforceable by licensing measures, law enforcement and the attorney general, ”said Aaron Frey, Maine attorney general. “The governor’s executive order makes it clear that all indoor public space operators must meet and enforce the requirements.”

“Our fundamental mission is to protect the safety of the Maine people,” said Chief Roland Lacroix, president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. “We support the governor’s executive order and stand ready to support its enforcement to protect the people of Maine.”

Editor’s Note: The following video aired on July 2, 2020

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