Maine increases indoor seating limits, strengthens mask requirement under new reopening phase

Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday announced that the state is entering the fourth stage of the reopening of Maine’s economy.Beginning on Oct. 13, indoor seating capacity limits will be increased to 50% of permitted occupancy, or 100 people, whichever is less. This includes indoor dining, religious gatherings and movie theaters.The governor’s order maintains the health measures outlined in the COVID-19 Prevention Checklists for businesses, which include enhanced cleaning practices and physical distancing.Mills also strengthened the state’s face coverings mandate by requiring that a broader set of entities, such as private schools and municipal buildings, ensure that employees and people in their buildings wear masks.The order also expands enforcement to include the entire state instead of just Maine’s larger cities and coastal counties.“With winter weather approaching, we must support businesses across the state as outdoor service becomes less viable and people move inside. This expanded capacity, along with continued health and safety precautions, is a prudent step forward that balances public health and economic health,” Mills said.For non-seated indoor activities, such as physical activity in gyms, the limit remains at 50. The outdoor gathering limit remains at 100 people. Retailers remain subject to the occupancy limit of 5 people per 1,000 square feet of shopping space.The order also said that bars and tasting rooms might be able to reopen for indoor service on Nov. 2.To reopen for indoor service, these establishments must abide by newly-posted COVID-19 Prevention Checklist for seated food and drink service, which is an update to the restaurant checklist, Mills said.Businesses that violate the executive orders are subject to enforcement, including possible fines and loss of licenses. To date, state officials have issued fines, in one instance nearly $20,000, and more than two dozen imminent health hazard warnings to organizations that have violated the orders.

Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday announced that the state is entering the fourth stage of the reopening of Maine’s economy.

Beginning on Oct. 13, indoor seating capacity limits will be increased to 50% of permitted occupancy, or 100 people, whichever is less. This includes indoor dining, religious gatherings and movie theaters.

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The governor’s order maintains the health measures outlined in the COVID-19 Prevention Checklists for businesses, which include enhanced cleaning practices and physical distancing.

Mills also strengthened the state’s face coverings mandate by requiring that a broader set of entities, such as private schools and municipal buildings, ensure that employees and people in their buildings wear masks.

The order also expands enforcement to include the entire state instead of just Maine’s larger cities and coastal counties.

“With winter weather approaching, we must support businesses across the state as outdoor service becomes less viable and people move inside. This expanded capacity, along with continued health and safety precautions, is a prudent step forward that balances public health and economic health,” Mills said.

For non-seated indoor activities, such as physical activity in gyms, the limit remains at 50.

The outdoor gathering limit remains at 100 people. Retailers remain subject to the occupancy limit of 5 people per 1,000 square feet of shopping space.

The order also said that bars and tasting rooms might be able to reopen for indoor service on Nov. 2.

To reopen for indoor service, these establishments must abide by newly-posted COVID-19 Prevention Checklist for seated food and drink service, which is an update to the restaurant checklist, Mills said.

Businesses that violate the executive orders are subject to enforcement, including possible fines and loss of licenses.

To date, state officials have issued fines, in one instance nearly $20,000, and more than two dozen imminent health hazard warnings to organizations that have violated the orders.