Maine: State loosens mask rules; COVID-19 memorial planned
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine is loosening the state’s mask-wearing requirements in the wake of new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the state is recommending people wear face coverings in outdoor settings in places where it is difficult to maintain physical distance. Face coverings are still required in indoor public settings, Mills said.
Maine had been requiring people to use masks in all public settings. The new rules reflect that the risk of transmitting coronavirus outdoors is low, especially with more people getting vaccinated, Mills said.
“With the summer months nearly upon us, this offers a great opportunity for people to get outside and safely enjoy all that Maine has to offer,” Mills said.
The new rules are effective immediately, Mills said.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said travelers to and from Maine will also no longer need to quarantine or test upon arrival in the state starting May 1.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
Maine might create a memorial for victims of COVID-19 in its state capital city.
Democratic Sen. Ben Chipman has introduced a proposal that would lead to the creation of the memorial on the grounds of the Maine State House. The proposal would direct the Legislative Council to fund and design the memorial, the Maine Legislature Senate Majority Office said on Monday.
Chipman said the “once in a generation pandemic needs to be properly recognized in the state of Maine.” The pandemic has killed 777 people in the state, public health authorities said.
The bill states that it would allow the State House and Capitol Park Commission “to arrange for and oversee the development and installation of a monument honoring the victims of the pandemic related to coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.”
The daily number of new cases of coronavirus in Maine has continued to rise, though the rate of increase has slowed somewhat.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 324.29 new cases per day on April 11 to 351.43 new cases per day on April 25. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 0.71 deaths per day on April 11 to 0.71 deaths per day on April 25.
The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
Maine CDC said Tuesday that more than 60,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic.
One of New England’s oldest amusement parks will reopen this season after a year off due to the pandemic.
Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco was one of many amusement parks that canceled last season due to the pandemic. The park has been open for more than 60 years.
The park will be coming back later this spring, officials said in a statement on Monday. It will be open fewer days in May and June than usual, and summer hours will be more limited, the statement said.
Reopening will also come with new safety requirements, including reservations, face coverings and empty seats on some rides, the park said.
Mills also said Tuesday that the state’s Revenue Forecasting Committee is expected to upgrade the state’s general fund revenue forecast by more than $460 million for both the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year. She said that means revenues are forecast to exceed pre-pandemic levels.
The state has “managed to hold the state budget steady while ensuring a robust public health response, protecting essential health care and life-saving services, supporting public education, and providing relief for Maine families and businesses most in need during these difficult times,” Mills said.