Maine Republicans want to ease restrictions to boost tourism
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine Republicans and hospitality and business groups said Monday the state should ease restrictions on entry into the state to try to save what’s left of the summer tourism season.
The push for reopening earned a swift rebuke from Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who said the Republicans “care more about Massachusetts money than the life of a Maine person.”
Many Maine communities are heavily dependent on tourism, and Massachusetts has long been a big driver of tourism dollars to the state. Travelers from Massachusetts must currently quarantine for two weeks or provide documentation of a negative coronavirus test if they visit Maine.
Maine Legislative Republicans said Monday the state should add Massachusetts and Rhode Island to its list of states exempted from the restrictions. That list includes the rest of New England as well as New York and New Jersey.
“Without a chance at salvaging part of the tourism season, businesses and livelihoods are being destroyed,” said Senate Republican Leader Dana Dow, of Lincoln.
The Republicans also called for an increase of the maximum gathering size in the state from 50 to 150. They said the state should also drop quarantine restrictions for visitors from states that have a positive testing rate of 5% or less.
Mills characterized the Republican plan as “a Donald Trump-style assault on the very public health measures that have successfully protected Maine people.” She also called it “a Republican invitation for a resurgence of the virus.”
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Nirav Shah said recently that state officials are monitoring the status of the pandemic in other states and still believed it’s appropriate to maintain restrictions on travelers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic in Maine:
Maine health officials reported 18 more cases of the virus on Monday. The state’s case total is above 3,800. Maine’s number of deaths from the virus remained at 119.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness and can lead to death.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is launching free immunization clinics for children in advance of the new school year because of the impact the pandemic had on pediatric visits.
The agency said the pandemic caused many families in the state to skip well-child visits, and that meant some children fell behind on immunizations. It’s opening catch-up clinics all over the state starting on Monday.
The clinics are scheduled to last through at least the end of August.
“COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in many ways, including presenting new challenges in getting to wellness and preventative care visits,” said Shah, the director of the Maine CDC.
The vaccines are available to children age 18 or younger at no cost, Maine CDC said.