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Wednesday marks a major milestone in Maine’s gradual economic reopening as restrictions lift on restaurants and other businesses in the three counties where the majority of Maine’s coronavirus cases have been concentrated.
Most notably, the changes bring many affected businesses in Cumberland, York and Androscoggin counties into alignment with those in the rest of the state, though other changes are applicable across Maine.
Here is a guide to Wednesday’s reopenings.
Restaurants, tasting rooms and bars
Restaurants can open to dine-in service in Cumberland, York and Androscoggin counties after previously being restricted to outdoor, takeout or delivery service. Gov. Janet Mills allowed restaurants to open to dine-in customers in the rest of Maine by June 1 and the new openings will be subject to sanitation and distancing rules.
The Democratic governor initially planned to allow that in the three remaining counties on June 1, but delayed that while citing rising case counts over the Memorial Day weekend. When she issued a Monday directive allowing the reopening to move forward, she noted that the three counties had finally seen a decline in daily virus cases.
Bars and tasting rooms will also be allowed to open for seated outdoor service in the three counties on Wednesday. Mills allowed that in the rest of Maine effective on Friday.
Retail capacity limits
You may also find it easier to get into retail stores starting Wednesday. Capacity restrictions across all of Maine will be raised to allow five shoppers at once per 1,000 square feet of shopping space, though the state encourages businesses to set lower limits in particularly confined places.
Before the change, restrictions ranged from five shoppers in small convenience stores to 100 people in big-box stores. The new limit is similar to restrictions instituted by Walmart in early April that the company said reduced stores to roughly 20 percent capacity. It would still be less strict than Maine’s previous limits.
Gyms and tattoo parlors
Similar to restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, tattoo parlors and body piercing, electrolysis and micropigmentation facilities that were allowed to open in the rest of Maine on Friday can open in the three remaining counties on Wednesday.
Nail salons are allowed to open in all of Maine today for the first time since restrictions took effect, with state rules in effect that mandate appointment-only service and ban perks such as magazines in waiting areas, massages meant to relieve pain and coffee in waiting areas.