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Gov. Mills updates COVID-19 protocols, will follow U.S. CDC guidance

Gov. Mills extends the State of Emergency
Gov. Mills extends the State of Emergency
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 1:19 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - What a difference a day makes

The Mills Administration announcing Friday that Maine will adopt the U.S. CDC’s new guidance which allows fully vaccinated Americans not to wear face coverings indoors, effective May 24, 2021.

Yesterday state officials said that would not be the case and that there would still be limitations in certain settings.

Maine will also lift the physical distancing requirement at indoor public settings where people are eating or drinking and therefore would be removing their face covering – such as indoor restaurants, bars, dining areas in camps or in congregate living facilities, and break rooms.

It is recommended that people in Maine who are not fully vaccinated wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The U.S. CDC requires people to wear masks on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.

Dr. Nirav Shah and DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew will hold a media briefing to update the state this afternoon at 3.

Here is the full statement from the Mills Administration.

Maine to Adopt U.S. CDC’s New COVID-19 Guidance

Augusta, MAINE – Following a review by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Governor Janet Mills announced today that the State of Maine will adopt the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (U.S. CDC) new guidance which allows fully vaccinated Americans not to wear face coverings indoors, effective May 24, 2021.

Maine will also lift the physical distancing requirement at indoor public settings where people are eating or drinking and therefore would be removing their face covering – such as indoor restaurants, bars, dining areas in camps or in congregate living facilities, and break rooms.

Consistent with the U.S. CDC’s guidelines, it is recommended that people in Maine who are not fully vaccinated wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The U.S. CDC requires people to wear masks on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.

The May 24th date aligns with Maine’s previously-established timeline to remove restrictions and allows those who have not yet been vaccinated to receive at least their first shot prior to the change. This includes youth ages 12 to 15 who just became eligible for a vaccine this week. To schedule a vaccine appointment, visit Maine.gov/covid19/vaccines or call 1-888-445-4111.

“We welcome this new guidance and we agree – being vaccinated is the best way to protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19,” said Governor Janet Mills. “After a review of the new guidance, we are adopting the U.S. CDC’s recommendations, and we continue to strongly urge all Maine people to get their shots. There are appointments available across the state right now. As we get back to normal, rolling up your sleeve is going to ensure that you stay healthy and alive. Please don’t wait. Get your shot now.”

“For people who are not vaccinated, including children too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a mask remains one of the most effective ways of protecting yourself and your family against this highly contagious disease,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “We thank those who are fully vaccinated for doing their part to protect themselves and their communities, and ask them to consider wearing a mask in public places to give children the example they need to continue wearing one until a vaccine is available for them.”

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “Vaccines are available throughout the state for people age 12 and older. If you have not been vaccinated, please take the time now to get shots for yourself and your loved ones age 12 and older.”

Yesterday afternoon, the Mills Administration updated the Moving Maine Forward Plan to lift all capacity limits and physical distancing requirements in all outdoor public settings. The Administration also lifted capacity limits for indoor public venues and physical distancing requirements, except in settings where people would be removing their face coverings.

The U.S CDC issued its new guidelines at the same time the Mills Administration released its update to the Moving Maine Forward Plan. Overnight, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed the new Federal guidelines and recommended their adoption to the Governor, who agreed.

Additionally, in light of the increased role the U.S. CDC has assumed in issuing guidance, the State of Maine will begin retiring its COVID-19 Prevention Checklists and transitioning to U.S. CDC guidelines as appropriate. The Maine Department of Education’s requirements and recommendations for schools, along with other Federal requirements, remain in effect at this time. Additional Federal guidance from the U.S. CDC for schools and other venues is expected.

Businesses and other organizations may, consistent with legal obligations, adopt policies for their employees or clients that either require vaccination or require proof of vaccination in order to avoid wearing a mask.

Governor Mills announced earlier this week that more than 70 percent of Maine people age 18 and older have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) tracker. Moreover, Maine continues to lead the nation in the percentage of its total population that is fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg.

Additionally, despite having the oldest median age population in the country, Maine, adjusted for population, ranks fourth lowest among states in both the total number of COVID-19 cases and number of deaths from COVID-19, according to the U.S. CDC.

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