AUGUSTA–The Mills administration on Wednesday unveiled an executive order – effective immediately – that requires businesses in Maine’s most populous cities to enforce mask-wearing rules inside their premises. Gov. Janet Mills had said last week that such an order was forthcoming.
The new order strengthens similar orders issued in late April and May that require people to wear face coverings in public settings where physical distancing is not possible.
Wednesday’s order now requires “large retail businesses, restaurants, outdoor bars, tasting rooms, and lodging establishments” in Cumberland, York, Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, as well as the cities of Bangor, Brewer, Lewiston, Auburn and Augusta, to enforce the May executive order requiring masks in indoor public places. Masks are also required outside in areas where physical distancing is impractical.
“It is important that we wear face coverings as people begin to interact more and more,” Mills said in a statement. “Doing so can slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the health and safety of those around us, support businesses and allow us to safely reopen our economy. I know it may be inconvenient for some, but I also believe that Maine people care about each other, and this simple gesture is a small price to pay for knowing you could save someone’s life.”
Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, said in a statement that “research shows that face coverings help limit potential transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.”
“Wearing a face covering in public places where physical distancing is difficult shows respect for others and reduces the risk that the virus could spread as more people move about Maine,” Shah said.