Maine’s nearly $1 billion wedding industry got a shot in the arm today when Gov. Janet Mills established a separate coronavirus safety checklist for weddings and other private events, encouraging keeping them short and as much outdoors as possible.
Weddings normally are big business for hotels, caterers, photographers and rental businesses, ground to a halt with travel and venue restrictions over the past year. An East Millinocket wedding and nearby reception last August amplified the concern after more than 100 cases were linked to it, including in other areas of the state.
Reservations began to recover after the governor allowed more out-of-state visitors and relaxed some capacity restrictions in early March. The new checklist provides more specific guidelines on holding weddings and other private events safely. It includes social distancing and mask-wearing rules already in place, and requires out-of-state vendors and attendees to follow the testing and quarantine requirements of the governor’s Moving Maine Forward plan.
That includes people all New England states being exempt from testing and quarantine requirements as of March 26 and indoor limits of 50 percent and outdoor limits of 75 percent of permitted capacity. Those limits increase to 75 percent indoors and 100 percent outdoors on May 24.
International guests entering the U.S. by air must present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the previous 90 days.
“Many of our members and other wedding vendors have been waiting for a specific checklist for private events and weddings for a while,” Greg Dugal, director of government affairs for HospitalityMaine, said. “This will help them plan for what’s shaping up to be a busy summer.”
The governor recommended limiting attendees to invited guests only, holding as much of the gathering outdoors as possible and limiting the duration of the event. Those holding the event must maintain a record of attendees and vendors, including one name and contact per household or travel party and the server at the table for contact tracing purposes.
There is a limit of eight people per table and tables must be 6 feet apart. Self-serving food at buffets is permitted if hand sanitizer stations are located at both ends of the station or table.
Venues can have more than one event at a time, but they must be held in different areas. However, attendees from different events should not share spaces such as restrooms or entrances at the same time.
The governor’s checklists for large gatherings and ticketed events, organized racing events, town meetings and transportation were updated as well. They include social distancing recommendations and staying at home if you feel sick. Large gatherings and organized racing also are encouraged to get advanced registration.