Governor Mills Announces Four Stage Plan to Re-Open ME’s Economy


Governor Mills Announces Four Stage Plan to Re-Open ME’s Economy

By: David Farmer and Kate Knox

There’s a lot of movement – and confusion – around ME’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a flurry of new activity this week.

On Tuesday, Gov. Janet Mills announced a four-stage re-opening of the state economy AND an extension of a modified stay-at-home order, which will be in effect until May 31.

The announcement included broad outlines of new business activity that would be allowed starting on Friday, June 1.

Initially, the city of Portland had extended its own stay-at-home order until May 18 with a vote by the city council on Monday. On Wednesday morning, the city changed course and said that the city would follow Mills’ statewide directives.

The governor said that her directive would continue to limit the size of gatherings, require out-of-state visitors who are not essential employees to quarantine for 14 days and require that those who can, continue to work remotely.

According to the governor, part of the process for businesses to re-open will require that they certify through the ME Department of Economic and Community Development website that they are following certain safety protocols.

Neither Mills’ executive order or those protocols were released on Tuesday, but we expect that they will become public before Friday to allow businesses to begin the process of re-opening.

Additionally, ME expects to begin accepting unemployment insurance claims on Friday May 1st for self-employed workers.

Stage 1 of the re-opening begins on Friday. It calls for people who are able to work from home to continue to do so, including state employees. It will also newly require that ME residents wear cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain, and continue strict requirements for long-term care facilities. Guidance on cloth face coverings will be issued in the coming days.

Stage 1 also allows for the limited expansion of certain business, religious and quality of life activities, with appropriate safety precautions. These include:

  • Health care from ME-licensed providers, with recommendations that they prioritize care for patients with time-sensitive conditions; assure the safety of patients, staff, and communities; manage the use of essential resources such as personal protective equipment and testing supplies; and pace re-opening services to the level of community COVID-19 activity, maintaining capacity in our hospitals for potential outbreaks
  • Personal services: barber shops, hair salons, and pet grooming
  • Limited drive-in, stay-in-your-vehicle religious services
  • Drive-in movie theaters
  • Outdoor recreation: guided outdoor activities (hunting & fishing) and restricted use of golf and disc golf courses
  • State parks, state-owned public land trails, and historic sites; although certain coastal state parks will remain closed
  • Auto dealerships and car washes

You can review the complete press release from Governor Mills on the staged re-opening HERE.

Stage 2 is tentatively set for June 1st and Stage 3 for July 1st. Each of the stages can be delayed if there is a resurgence of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that Governor Mills emphasized “we have more work to do.”

There is no timeline on Stage 4, which would lift most restrictions.

New List of Possible Symptoms:

Also of note: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its list of symptoms for COVID-19 to include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

And at least two of the following:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Resources from MEMIC:

MEMIC has released a number of valuable resources for businesses as they make preparation for re-opening. They provide some important and helpful ideas on how to improve workplace safety for employees and customers.

While the state is beginning to re-open, it’s unlikely that any of us will be able to return to “business as normal” for some time.

Bottom Line

The COVID-19 crisis is rapidly evolving and requiring businesses to adapt quickly to the legal, regulatory, economic, and community impacts. Our legislative and government affairs team is monitoring these developments in real time and we’re here to support and assist you as needed. Please do not hesitate to reach out if we can be helpful to you.