By Ramona du Houx

July 1, 2020

Maine is exempting visitors from the States of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey from the 14-day quarantine requirement or negative COVID-19 testing alternative, effective this Friday, July 3, 2020.

The decision comes after the Administration reviewed public health data in other states to determine the appropriateness of additional exemptions, like those previously extended to New Hampshire and Vermont. In evaluating these exemptions, the Administration takes into consideration several data measurements, which include but are not limited to, the prevalence of the virus and the positivity rates in other states. In reviewing these metrics, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, for example, demonstrate a lower positive rate than Maine’s. Additionally, the prevalence of the virus in these states is similar and continues a downward trend.

Even with this update, Governor Mills continues to strongly recommend that visitors from these states obtain a test before visiting Maine, in order to “Know Before You Go”. Visitors can find COVID-19 testing sites near them via the website https://get-tested-covid19.org/. Those taking reservations for lodging facilities in Maine should advise all visitors that testing is encouraged, even if no longer required for people coming from certain states.

Furthermore, with more people coming to Maine’s coastal towns and cities, the use of face coverings will become even more important.

“Maine’s updated policy on visitors is a holistic review of public health metrics that have guided Maine’s fight against COVID-19 from the start,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. “Maine people should be proud of our successes to date, but residents and visitors alike must remain vigilant by wearing face coverings and practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene.”

Governor Mills will issue an Executive Order requiring Maine’s large retail stores, lodging establishments, restaurants, and outdoor bars and tasting rooms in the coastal counties of Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, and York, and in the more populous cities of Bangor and Brewer and Lewiston and Auburn, to enforce the State’s face covering requirement. In the last week, states across the country, such as North Carolina, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon, have implemented similar strong measures related to face coverings, given the evidence that masks significantly reduce transmission of the virus.

“In reviewing the objective metrics over recent days and weeks, the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York demonstrate low positivity rates and other encouraging trends in the prevalence of the virus. As a result, we will exempt these states from Maine’s quarantine or test policy. At the same time, as I have said repeatedly, we will continue to remain vigilant against this virus, and Maine people and visitors, as well as businesses and facilities operators, must take every step to protect themselves, their customers, and others around them. Especially seeing the dangerous trends in southern and southwestern states after they lifted restrictions dramatically, we have to take this virus seriously, and we must continue to protect one another,” said Governor Mills.

“From the beginning of our reopening process, we have focused on protecting public health and supporting economic activity,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “Every day we work to strike that all important balance, and, with this move, believe we are taking another reasonable and responsible step forward.”

The Mills Administration’s exemptions come as other states, such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, institute and expand their own mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for some travelers. Other states, such as Rhode Island and Hawaii, have followed Maine’s lead in adopting a negative COVID-19 test as an alternative to quarantine. The Administration will continue to evaluate public health data in other states to determine whether additional states can be granted exemptions. The Administration is particularly focused on northeastern states within driving distance of Maine where most of Maine’s visitors come from.

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