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Non-essential businesses across state issued new restrictions

AUGUSTA - Governor Janet Mills ordered non-essential, public-facing businesses across the state to close their physical locations for the next 14 days, effective tomorrow, in a reinforcement of last week's recommendation.

Mills announced the order at a press conference held Tuesday afternoon. At that same conference, Maine Center for Disease Control Director Nirav Shah said that 118 people from 10 counties had tested positive for novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. A total of 3,014 tests have come back negative. A total of 74 cases have been reported in Cumberland County, with mostly single-digit numbers of cases in nine other counties, including today's addition of Waldo County. Shah has repeatedly asked Mainers to assume that COVID-19 in their own communities.

"Maine people should live their lives as if COVID-19 is in their community," said Shah. "Physical distancing in every part of Maine is crucial to limit potential spread of the virus. You can be there for loved ones without being in the same place."

The Executive Order, signed by the governor under the authority granted by the State of Civil Emergency, reinforces the March 18 recommendation that all non-essential businesses in Maine close physical locations that are public facing, meaning those that allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact. The order also closes non-essential business sites that require more than ten workers to convene in a space where physical distancing is not possible.

"Today, I am taking further action to mitigate the spread of the virus, to protect the health of our loved ones and fellow citizens, and to safeguard the capacity of our health care system," said Mills in a statement. "I recognize these decisions will create significant difficulties for people and businesses across our state, but we are confronting an unprecedented challenge that is threatening the health and safety of our people."

Non-essential businesses and operations subject to the Governor’s Executive Order include, but are not limited to, shopping malls, fitness and exercise gyms, spas, barber shops, hair salons, tattoo and piercing parlors, massage facilities, nail technicians, cosmetologists and estheticians, electrolysis services, laser hair removal services, and similar personal care and treatment facilities and services.

The Executive Order excludes businesses that provide essential services including, but not limited to: food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair and hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical, behavioral health and health care providers, child care, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and animal feed and supply stores, shipping stores, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging.

Owners of businesses not listed here, but who do believe their business qualifies as essential may request that designation here: https://www.maine.gov/essentialservice. Questions may also be directed to business.answers@maine.gov.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce issued a statement in support of the order, with President Dana Connors saying that "the number one priority at this time is safeguarding the public’s health."

"Adhering to the governor’s order will protect everyone’s health, the health of fellow citizens, the health of workers on the frontlines, and the capabilities of our hospital systems to care for those in need," Connors said. "The sooner we take these actions to flatten the curve of COVID-19, the sooner we will get through this and Maine can get back to business."

State government remains open, but offices have significantly moved to work remotely, limited client engagement and have required physical distancing within office buildings. The Department of Administrative and Financial Services estimated that 70 percent of state government employees are working remotely. The governor urges Maine people to avail themselves of the state’s online services and resources.

For those essential businesses that remain open, Mills strongly urged them to implement physical distancing measures. She specifically urged high-traffic retail stores in Maine that provide essential goods and services to immediately employ strategies to reduce congestion in their stores, including.

  • For stores with a physical retail space of more than 5,000 feet, limiting customers to no more than 100 at any one time;
  • Enhancing their curbside pick-up and delivery services;
  • Staggering their hours for shoppers of a certain age;
  • Closing fitting rooms;
  • Cautioning customers against handling merchandise they are not purchasing;
  • Marking six-foot measurements by the cashier stations and reminding customers to remain six feet apart while in store;
  • Staggering break times for employees and require frequent hand-washing;
  • Frequently sanitizing high-touch areas, such as shopping carts.

Recommendations from public health professionals is for people to practice physical distancing and take the same preventive measures they would to avoid catching a cold: wash hands often for 20 seconds, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if sick.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath and lower respiratory distress. Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness. Health care providers will make the initial determination on whether COVID-19 testing is necessary.

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25 Responses »

  1. What is being done for those that are still required to go to work and put them themselves and their family's at risk daily, many at minimum wage?

    As our government is ok with putting these peoples lives on the line while most stay home it is time to pay close attention to your local small business, see who values their customers/community's and employees over money, base your shopping when this is over on who put others first versus who was more concerned with their own bottom line.

    I understand this is a tough spot for many, but money should never be more important than your employee's and community health and How many owners are putting them selves at risk versus letting the employees carry the load while they stay safe and sound.

    There are many shameful examples of this already visible in Wilton and Farmington.

  2. @ Inequality - Did you ever stop to consider the fact that many people WANT to work, so that they can support themselves and their families? I have 2 sons who were both furloughed today, and they didn't want to quit working. One of them is single, and he can make it OK on unemployment. The other one is married and his wife is pregnant with #4. They will be going from being fairly well off to now being in the poorhouse. Looks like mom and dad will have to pony something up to help them, as her parents don't have much money themselves. And my business has taken about a 90% hit from the coronavirus, so it's going to be my wife's and my modest retirement money that will have to come to the rescue.

  3. Supermarkets and the like in some states have added "emergency pay" of $2.00/hr. to the pay rates of their employees who are staying to stock, cashier, etc., during this difficult time. Other bonuses are also being given to front-line employees to encourage their attendance and recognize their value.

  4. The fool, of course I am aware that people are out of work in order to ensure everyone's saftey. I'm sorry to hear that your "well off" son wasn't financially prepared and will be relying on mommy and daddy. Luckily there is help available for people out of work other than mommy and daddy that is not there for the poor folks still on the front line.

    My concern is for those not well off that have to work for minimum wage or close to it while putting themselves and their family's at risk during a pandemic. Suddenly all the low paying jobs are essential, and putting so many people at risk for those wages is shameful while "well off" people are safe at home with all the benefits that are available to them.

  5. I may be wrong but many of the "non-essential people" operate as individuals and are not considered employees; ie, your personal care persons such as stylists who pay booth rental, etc.
    Even though they are ordered to close down, Maine does not pay unemployment wages to them.
    Am I correct? Any comments?

  6. Too bad Mills and her D-majority friends blew most, if not ALL of the 'rainy day fund' on wasteful progressive holiday fun stuff in record time, huh? Would've been nice to have it during a GLOBAL CRISIS. I mean - we all paid IN, but are left with nothing now.

    Wonder how many people are going to lose their homes to CT, MA buyers because now, we're ALL absolutely going to be destroyed with taxes to bail out EVERYTHING, the bulk of which generates nothing; that simply can't be avoided. Oh well - it's going to be a lot. Sometimes, it's good to reap the consequences of poor choices rather than be given the easy way out, which is what got us to that craziness, anyway.

    Self-employed ppl get no safety net, no....they're just those nasty business owners, tho, so that has always been fine. Good news is - they CAN get on the dole, too, once they stop trying. And will, now. But..umm....well, they were the backbone of this area, and now they won't be here....what's the plan, Farmington area? How will you accommodate all that mandated spending? SAYING "money isn't important" got us to a crisis in just a few days...how ya gonna fix it? With feelz? Right.

    BTW, the government doesn't have ONE SINGLE PENNY that it hasn't confiscated from your neighbors - the majority seem to forget that. Remember that as it all goes up, up, up.

  7. I have been watching this carefully. If any working people end up in the poor house it will be because of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnel’s insistence. They fought tooth and nail for a mostly “unregulated” hand out to businesses and not much for workers. The final law will help even “gig” employees. Guess who stood hard for that.

  8. Maybe if our public schools taught children how to take care of themselves, instead of how to rely on the government and continually blaming somebody, fewer people would be in a panic.
    This is starting to look like a giant money grab.

  9. Over reg, Common sense, foresight and fiscal responsibility have never ever been associated with mills or the rest of the democrat seat warmers. Nothing new there.

    In re. real estate sales, both prices and volume are rising. I can attest that many sales in our area are to out of state buyers and the portland elites that are cherry-picking bargains. Think second homes and buildable land etc. a few business going for fire sale pricing as well. One of the benefits of supply and demand in a state where welfare is king, money talks. You can be a chump change player in New Jersey and the same money makes you a big time player in farm town.

    Many people, thankfully, are still working in Maine. BIW, Private contractors,builders, pulp and paper, wood harvesting etc. and many others. The bars, restaurant owners and staffers got shafted by mills for sure. The ski areas closed because it was easy and they already got whatever the season was going to generate. No employees equals no liability, that was easy. Note that there is opportunity in this paid lay off period. Places like Farmington should be decontaminating and sealing off the college, schools, public spaces and anything else that needs cleaning. You can hIre locals to scrub these places down. Why not be proactive, use the time wisely.

    I see the folks from away out snowmobiling and partying up a storm almost daily. No save the planet isolation for these folks, there’s is a mentality of entitlement. Is the county, state and local municipalities going to charge them for emergency response services and decontamination costs in the case of injury requiring evacuation? Something to think about when you have as many as two fire departments, EMS, wardens and how many at our county’s largest employer.

  10. By the time someone chooses to have #4 they should be financially secure enough to weather a month or two of tough times.

  11. @ Inequality - my son has a very good reason for not being secure financially. He is in the health care field (not dealing with the virus), and it cost him megabucks to get his education. It took him 3 years to build up a good clientele of patients, while at the same time paying a modest mortgage and over $2000 per month for student loans. His income just started to become good in the past few months, and now he has been ordered to shut down, and he has no income and only modest savings. Give him time, good health, and the grace of God, and he will be in fine shape financially to face a crisis. Please learn the facts before you rush to judgment.

  12. Now waiting for the House GOP-ers to get over the $600. added to unemployment checks. It is reported that Trump's ready to sign the stimulus with the $600. included.

    FDR's The New Deal has lessons for the coronavirus crisis
    https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-23/new-deal-lessons-coronavirus-hiltzik-column

  13. Gov Mills how about giving the 90 day extension to the people on the state income tax filing. Answer would be appreciated.

  14. Marie E. You should go to YouTube and look up the senate floor talks from Monday and you will get the truth of what you are claiming. It is not the GOP holding up this latest stimulus. There’s some people down there that want new air emissions on planes before they allow a bill they helped to write pass. Not to mention other non essential things that has absolutely nothing to do with helping the American people.

  15. The Fool,

    Keep beating the dead horse about your poor son in the health care field, He has numerous options available for help right now, apparently including mommy and daddy.

    It's pretty amazing that you would compare someone out of work in the medical field that should have been financially prepared if he is having child #4, to workers being forced to expose them selves and their family's to this virus on a daily basis for less then $15 a hour just to keep their nose above water.

    Would you have preferred for your son to maintain a income while exposing his wife and unborn child along with the prior three children for those wages?

    Please learn the facts that the world is much bigger than your son that get's to stay home with his family and take advantage of all the programs that have been made available for people in his position, all while being bailed out by his parents as well. If you think that is a sob story, you need to open your eyes to the rest of the world.

  16. What about the vacation rental business. Maybe we shouldn't be flooding our small towns with "flatties" from heavily affected areas. This is putting stress on the resources in these areas, and putting the seniors at risk.

  17. well I like the fact that people are psychic enough to know someone else's situation..most of us live week to week, and payments on everything we have.. the bills keep coming even if the income stops..stop pretending to know it all and offer solutions instead of playing the blame game.. it doesn't help. if you are healthy you should be checking on your elderly, disabled, and veteran neighbors..but as far as work goes, if you can do so and still socially distance yourself from others, that is what I would do.. just my opinion

  18. @ Inequality - you need a little love to soften up that heart of yours. My son has done quite well for himself despite what it took to get his education. He has 6 years (that's correct) of food stored up, and he's got enough cash to get by for a couple of months. Until his business was built up, he had to live with much austerity. He and his wife drive 16 year old cars that they paid for with cash. They live in an inexpensive house that they bought because it was cheaper than renting. They're doing a great job raising their kids. You talk about all the financial help that he will get, but all he will have is a small unemployment check from his part time job, because he does most of his work as an independent contractor. He's done the best he could up to this point for his family, and the state he lives in has now shut him down, just as he was beginning to come into a much better place financially. I hope that you don't have to face much adversity because of the coronavirus, because you seem to be the type who would have a very difficult time to deal with it.

  19. To the fool and inequality,please exchange phone numbers and save the rest of us you banter.This is a comment section not a pizzing contest.

  20. Marie, please research before posting, Pelosi and her cohorts have attempted to fill the relief bill with non-coronavirus items.
    Here are several things she was trying to put in the package giving millions to Planned Parenthood, transforming election law, granting money to sanctuary cities, and giving a handout to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
    I believe as it stands the Kennedy Center is her only surviving in the list.
    As Awww stated above you can check this out for yourself, that is if you want the truth.

  21. The fool,

    I am a "Essential Employee", I am on the front line dealing with this everyday and watching others struggling with the choice of working for peanuts and putting them selves and their family's at risk or leaving their job.

    Unlike your son who somehow went from being terribly impacted at the start of this conversation and needing money from mom and dad to miraculously having months of extra cash and six years of food stockpiled. Glad to hear that the sob story you started telling has now evolved into him being just fine. Once the current bill passes your son will be in even better shape with the loans available for small business and expanded unemployment amounts and new qualifications that will most likely allow him to collect even more unemployment not to mention the student loan forbearance.

    You are somehow still convinced that he is worse off than those being forced to put themselves and their family's at risk daily, just so they can keep their 16 year old cars and their inexpensive houses with there low paying essential jobs that allow you to continue to live your life with minimal hardships all while receiving nothing for the risks they are taking.

    You are a perfect example of the problems facing our society today. Its all you you you and to hell with anyone else. Very sad to see such a world view expressed so clearly.

  22. Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.

  23. "transforming election law" to "vote by mail" in this election year crisis of a coronavirus pandemic sounds obvious and practical to me.

  24. The fool,

    I can post quotes from fictional works of fantasy just as well as you can. With the difference being that mine are not condescendingly passive aggressive. I will instead end our conversation with some uplifting words that encourage all to stand and confront our current situation together.

    "I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.

    A day may come when the courage of men fails,

    when we forsake our friends

    and break all bonds of fellowship,

    but it is not this day.

    An hour of wolves and shattered shields,

    when the age of men comes crashing down,

    but it is not this day!

    This day we fight!!

    By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,

    I bid you stand, Men of the West!!!"

    J.R.R Tolkien

  25. Praying for the oppressors to be corrected.

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