The Millinocket inn that hosted an Aug. 7 wedding reception linked to a COVID-19 outbreak has been cited by the state for exceeding the 50-person limit for indoor events.
The state has given the Big Moose Inn an “imminent health hazard” citation, according to Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. About 65 guests attended the wedding reception, exceeding the state’s current 50-person limit on indoor gatherings.
The inn doesn’t face financial penalties right now, Shah said, but it could face fines and a temporary license suspension if it continued to violate state health rules. The citation is an official notice that the inn violated one or more state health rules, and it asks the inn’s operators to comply going forward. In addition to exceeding the 50-person limit on gatherings, Shah said, the inn’s restaurant was cited for operating in excess of its licensed capacity.
Thirty-two cases have now been linked to the wedding, for which the ceremony took place at the Tri Town Baptist Church in East Millinocket, Shah said. The virus has infected people as young as 4 and as old as 78. Seven of the 32 people who have been infected are under 18, he said.
One guest reported developing symptoms on Aug. 8, the day after the wedding, Shah said, while others reported symptoms four days after. Eighty-seven percent of the cases that have been discovered so far have been in people with symptoms, he said.
Three of the people infected did not appear to have attended the wedding or reception, Shah said.
One person so far has been hospitalized, according to Dr. Robert Peterson, CEO of Millinocket Regional Hospital.
It’s too early to say whether the church will face a citation, he said. The Big Moose Inn is the only establishment to have been cited in Maine so far for exceeding the state’s coronavirus gathering limits.
The inn’s owner hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment this week.
The wedding outbreak brought a spike in cases to an area that had seen few cases in recent months, and state health officials said earlier this week that they were worried infected wedding guests could cause “secondary waves” of COVID-19 infections as they returned to their communities following the wedding.
As of Sunday, Millinocket had recorded 14 coronavirus cases after recording no cases for the first five months of the pandemic, according to Maine CDC data. East Millinocket’s case total had risen to 13 after the town had recorded five or fewer during the first five months. And Medway’s case total had risen by one, to 13, since earlier in the pandemic.