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Legal Update Article

Maine Takes Steps to Restart Economy following COVID-19 Shutdown Order

Maine has begun Stage 1 of a four-stage plan to reopen the Maine economy following the stay-at-home order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Janet Mills’ plan, Together We Are Maine: Restarting Maine’s Economy Plan, is designed to gradually ease restrictions on various businesses during Stages 1 through 3 until all businesses are operating subject to appropriate safety precautions in Stage 4.              

Extension of Existing Stay-at-Home Order

To facilitate Stage 1 of the plan, Governor Mills extended the existing stay-at-home order (Executive Order 49) through May 31, 2020, with adjustments to restrictions on activities identified in Stage 1, including:

  • Wearing of cloth face coverings in public settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., stores, pharmacies, health care facilities, playgrounds, busy parking lots, lines for take-out, public transportation, taxis, and ridesharing services);
  • Continued prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people;
  • Continued 14-day quarantine for individuals entering or returning to the state; and
  • Special precautions for those categories of individuals at higher risk of COVID-19.

Progression through each stage of the plan will depend on the success of previous stages, and the timeline and requirements may be adjusted depending on developments.

In order to reopen under the plan, Maine businesses must comply with general and industry-specific best practices to prevent the spread of COVID‑19. The state has issued prevention checklists, including industry-specific checklists for business permitted to reopen under Stage 1. Checklists will be updated and new checklists released ahead of each staged opening.

Businesses are expected to submit an online form confirming their compliance with the applicable COVID-19 Prevention Checklists before reopening.

Stage 1 (May 2020)

  • Adherence to Executive Order 49;
  • Employees should continue to work from home when able to do so;
  • Professional services should continue to be done remotely;
  • Construction firms should deploy additional personal protective equipment and other safety measures on job sites;
  • Continued operation of essential business (such as grocery stores, pharmacies, financial institutions, home repair services, child care agencies, and car repair services, among others); and
  • With appropriate safety precautions and subject to reopening checklists, the limited expansion of certain businesses and activities, including:
    • Drive-in movie theaters;
    • Healthcare from Maine-licensed providers;
    • Restricted use of golf and disc golf courses;
    • Guided outdoor activities (hunting and fishing);
    • Guided boating (up to 10 customers);
    • Marinas, boatyards, and marine manufacturers;
    • State parks and historic sites (certain coastal state parks will remain closed);
    • State-owned public land trails;
    • Barber shops, hair salons, and pet grooming;
    • Auto dealerships and car washes; and
    • Limited drive-in, stay-in-your-vehicle religious services.

Stage 2 (Tentatively, June 2020)

  • Expansion of limitations on gatherings from more than 10 people to more than 50 people;
  • Maintaining 14-day quarantine for individuals entering or returning to the state;
  • Special precautions for those categories of individuals at higher risk of COVID-19;
  • Employees should continue to work from home when possible, but employees in certain fields (e.g., legal and professional fields) may begin to return to the office as needed;
  • Continued operation of businesses under Stage 1; and
  • With appropriate safety precautions, some degree of opening with reservations, capacity limits, and other measures for:
    • Restaurants;
    • Lodging and campgrounds and RV parks for Maine residents and those who have met the 14-day quarantine requirement;
    • Day camps for Maine children;
    • Coastal State parks (with some services);
    • Fitness and exercise centers and nail technicians; and
    • All retail businesses.

Stage 3 (Tentatively, July and August 2020)

  • Continued prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people and other Stage 1 and Stage 2 restrictions, including the 14-day quarantine on people entering the state;
  • Continued operation of businesses under Stage 1;
  • With appropriate safety precautions, some degree of opening for:
    • Lodging, such as hotels, campgrounds, summer camps, or RV parks for Maine residents and visitors (reservations should not be taken until guidelines are issued);
    • Outdoor recreation such as charter boats and boat excursions;
    • Bars; and
    • Personal services such as spas, tattoo and piercing parlors, and massage facilities, among others.

Stage 4 (Undetermined)

Stage 4 contemplates lifting restrictions and allowing all businesses and activities to resume with appropriate safety precautions. 

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist employers in evaluating issues with new reopening checklists and protocols and assessing the full ranges of labor and employment issues employers must address in the workplace in response to COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Page to stay abreast of developments.

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