Maine adds restrictions; Halloween fans still visit Salem
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Here is a look at coronavirus pandemic-related developments around New England:
Maine is reinstating restrictions meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid a resurgence of the virus, Gov. Janet Mills said Sunday.
Maine has been one of the most successful states at controlling the virus, but it’s dealing with a wave of new infections. The rolling average of daily cases more than doubled from below 30 per day to more than 67 by Friday. The state reported 103 infections that day, the largest single day increase in cases.
The state had been slated to reopen bars Monday, but that has been postponed to a yet-to-be-determined date, said Mills, a Democrat.
The state is removing New York, Connecticut and New Jersey from its list of states that are exempt from travel restrictions, Mills said. That means visitors from those states must quarantine for two weeks or produce a negative coronavirus test.
Maine is also reducing indoor capacity limits from 100 to 50, Mills said.
“If we do not control this outbreak, we may never get this evil genie back in the bottle,” she said.
The new restrictions take effect Wednesday. The Mills administration said recently it plans to distribute 400,000 rapid antigen tests. The testing will be available at no charge later this month, the administration said.
Halloween still attracted lots of people to Salem, the most witch-friendly city in Massachusetts, although crowds were smaller than during a typical year because of the coronavirus.
Mayor Kim Driscoll said two weeks ago that 2020 “is not the year to come to Salem.” Still, people dressed as goblins and ghouls made their way to the Witch City, despite calls to stay home.
Those who made it to Salem had to contend with closures and restrictions designed to prevent the kind of large crowds that typically descend on the North Shore city on Halloween.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu warned that coronavirus cases are rising in the state, and the increase could continue. New Hampshire recorded 205 new cases on Saturday — the largest single-day figure in the state since the start of the pandemic.
“The situation here in New Hampshire remains very serious, the data shows that community transmission is increasing, and we expect cases to rise,” Sununu said. “We must all remain vigilant in our daily lives. As we enter these winter months, it will be more important than ever to wear your mask, practice social distancing, and maintain proper hand hygiene.”
Rhode Island is providing $20 million in grants to help the state’s hotel, arts and tourism industries stave off long-term closures while building resiliency during the pandemic.
Half of the the grant allocation will support engagement, service and resiliency activities designed to spur economic activity, create safe gathering opportunities, and allow increased and accessible artistic and tourist-friendly opportunities.
That could include COVID-19-appropriate events or activities, providing hotel vouchers and or discounts to those wishing to work or learn remotely, hosting safe meetings and enabling virtual and remote events.
The other $10 million will come in the form of direct support for operating costs, including salaries, reopening costs, critical repairs or maintenance, and technical assistance.
“Rhode Island’s hospitality, tourism, and arts industries have made great sacrifices to ensure the safety of their customers and staff, and we need to do everything we can to help them through this pandemic,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a statement.
Applications for the competitive grants will be accepted starting Monday at the the Rhode Island Commerce website.
Public health authorities in Vermont reported 17 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday. It was a relatively low number for a state that has seen an increase in cases in recent weeks.
The University of Connecticut has placed a Stamford dorm that houses about 235 students under quarantine due to a handful of coronavirus cases. The decision came amid a surge in cases in Connecticut and elsewhere.