Maine plans to phase out COVID-19 safety checklists starting at the end of this week and instead rely on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, state officials said Wednesday.
Gov. Janet Mills also will issue a new executive order by the end of the week covering mask-wearing and other expected changes as Maine businesses prepare for looser restrictions on face coverings and venue capacity limits starting Monday, officials said. In keeping with federal changes announced last week, the governor will not require fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors as of then.
Maine is moving to a “recommended but not required” model of pandemic business guidelines, Heather Johnson, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, said in a monthly video call with business leaders.
The department has kept more than two dozen detailed lists of mandates segmented by business type on its website for much of the past year. By the end of the week, that will be updated with links to the U.S. CDC recommendations.
“Businesses still have the option to require certain activity, but the state will no longer be requiring it,” Johnson said.
Businesses will not need to enforce mask mandates or 6-foot social distancing rules as of Monday, Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, who was a guest speaker on the video call, said.
She said the distancing protocol had one of the biggest negative economic impacts of any of the state’s requirements.
Lambrew said that lodging establishments may be able to ask that a guest be vaccinated to stay at their hotel, but said it is a complicated situation and businesses should check first with lawyers. She said the cruise ship industry and some higher education organizations are requiring full vaccinations.