AUGUSTA, Maine — Food establishments can reopen buffets and self-service food stations as part of the latest update to coronavirus business guidelines from Gov. Janet Mills’ administration.
Buffets and self-service stations are allowed again as long as there’s hand sanitizer on both ends, customers stay 6 feet apart, serving utensils are changed hourly, and there are barriers between customers and food service staff, among other rules.
In addition, bars within restaurants will be allowed to stay open after the kitchen closes starting Friday, the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development said Wednesday. Overnight camps regardless of length will be allowed to resume but are encouraged to develop a COVID-19 strategy.
The news comes as Maine prepares to increase businesses’ indoor gathering limits to 50 percent of typical capacity and 75 percent for outdoor gatherings on Friday. Bars and tasting rooms will also be allowed to reopen then.
Mills announced those changes March 5 as part of a range of changes ahead of the spring and summer tourism season.
That plan includes allowing visitors from every state to travel to Maine without having to quarantine except for select states by May 1. Maine has not yet decided on that list of states.
Those changes are occurring as Maine works to vaccinate its population, with a goal of opening vaccines to everyone over the age of 16 by April 19. Almost 17 percent of Maine’s population had been vaccinated as of Wednesday. Many states have begun lifting restrictions as the vaccine effort continues, although case counts have remained steady in Maine and elsewhere in New England after a January decline.