Gov. Janet Mills issues new mask mandate; businesses worry about enforcement

Gov. Janet Mills has signed a new executive order requiring businesses in most counties to Maine enforce the use of face coverings.The new order requires face coverings in retail stores with more than 50,000 square feet of shopping space, restaurants, outdoor bars or tasting rooms and lodging establishments. It applies to businesses in Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland and York counties, as well as in the cities of Bangor, Brewer, Lewiston, Auburn, and Augusta. Businesses could lose their licenses to operate if they do not enforce the mandate.Some business owners said they already see potential trouble with the new mandate.At Monte’s Fine Foods in Portland, the store will offer customers a free mask if they do not have one.”Here’s the thing. None of us like wearing masks. But we’re wearing them up to 12 hours a day and if you think about it, really all the governor is asking is for you to put one on for just a few minutes while you do your shopping. I think that’s a reasonable request,” co-owner Steve Quattrucci said.Customers like Michael MacInnes said he doesn’t mind the stricter mandate the governor is expected to issue.”It will definitely help everybody. It should have started a long time ago,” MacInnes said.Wilson County Barbecue owner Spencer Brantley said the enforcement order is different than a simple reminder and will only make things for difficult for his staff.”We are not the cops,” Brantley said.Brantley said he will continue to refuse service to people who refuse to wear a mask while walking around the restaurant.”People claim they have a medical issue or there’s a reason they can’t wear a mask. If they’re seated at a table and make an effort that’s one thing, but if someone is coming in to make a case about it, shouting, ‘I’m not wearing a mask.’ Right off the bat, then maybe it’s a good idea for them to dine somewhere else,” Brantley said.The governor said the order is meant to control the spread of the virus and mirrors what other states have done. She said Mainers must take the virus seriously and continue to protect one another.

Gov. Janet Mills has signed a new executive order requiring businesses in most counties to Maine enforce the use of face coverings.

The new order requires face coverings in retail stores with more than 50,000 square feet of shopping space, restaurants, outdoor bars or tasting rooms and lodging establishments.

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It applies to businesses in Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland and York counties, as well as in the cities of Bangor, Brewer, Lewiston, Auburn, and Augusta.

Businesses could lose their licenses to operate if they do not enforce the mandate.

Some business owners said they already see potential trouble with the new mandate.

At Monte’s Fine Foods in Portland, the store will offer customers a free mask if they do not have one.

“Here’s the thing. None of us like wearing masks. But we’re wearing them up to 12 hours a day and if you think about it, really all the governor is asking is for you to put one on for just a few minutes while you do your shopping. I think that’s a reasonable request,” co-owner Steve Quattrucci said.

Customers like Michael MacInnes said he doesn’t mind the stricter mandate the governor is expected to issue.

“It will definitely help everybody. It should have started a long time ago,” MacInnes said.

Wilson County Barbecue owner Spencer Brantley said the enforcement order is different than a simple reminder and will only make things for difficult for his staff.

“We are not the cops,” Brantley said.

Brantley said he will continue to refuse service to people who refuse to wear a mask while walking around the restaurant.

“People claim they have a medical issue or there’s a reason they can’t wear a mask. If they’re seated at a table and make an effort that’s one thing, but if someone is coming in to make a case about it, shouting, ‘I’m not wearing a mask.’ Right off the bat, then maybe it’s a good idea for them to dine somewhere else,” Brantley said.

The governor said the order is meant to control the spread of the virus and mirrors what other states have done. She said Mainers must take the virus seriously and continue to protect one another.