ELLSWORTH — It has been nearly a month since Governor Janet Mills declared a state of emergency in Maine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In subsequent weeks, dine-in restaurant service and gatherings of more than 10 people have been banned, nonessential businesses have closed their public-facing property and, as of April 2, a stay-at-home order has been issued through at least the end of the month.
For many residents, that means remaining indoors unless conducting essential activities, and maintaining social distancing protocols when doing so.
For classifying essential businesses, Maine has followed guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security. Those businesses include but are not limited to food processing and agriculture, industrial manufacturing, construction, trash collection, grocery, household good and convenience stores, pharmacies and medical facilities, group homes and treatment facilities, post offices and shipping facilities, child care providers, banks and credit unions, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and animal supply stores, truck deliveries and distribution and utilities such as electricity, water and telecommunications. A full list is available online at Maine.gov.
Public transportation such the Maine State Ferry Service and Downeast Transportation remains in service, although with reduced scheduling and social distancing protocols in place. Effective April 5, Governor Mills has also ordered all lodging accommodations, including hotels, motels, campgrounds and services such as AirBnb, closed other than to provide space for vulnerable populations and health-care workers and potentially serve as quarantine facilities as arranged by the state.
Businesses deemed essential are still to maintain social distancing guidelines, including limiting the number of people allowed in one location at a time.
For gas stations and convenience stores, that means five customers at a time. For grocery stores such as Hannaford, the limit is set at 75. For larger stores such as Walmart, the maximum number of customers is limited to 100.
Under Maine’s stay-at-home order, residents are permitted to travel only for essential work or activities, as well as taking care of family, friends or animals and hiking and fishing in parks that remain open.