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Gov. Mills to allow indoor dining in all Maine counties Wednesday
Governor Janet Mills says that indoor dining will be allowed in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York Counties starting Wednesday. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- Governor Janet Mills says that indoor dining will be allowed in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York Counties starting Wednesday.

Any restaurant that opens for indoor dining will be subject to the state's COVID-19 prevention checklist.

Mills says the decision was made based on a stabilization of new cases and hospital rates in those counties.

Previously, only outdoor dining, takeaway and delivery services were allowed in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York Counties.

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Also starting Wednesday, bars, breweries, and tasting rooms are permitted to open for outdoor, seated service while gyms, nail salons, and tattoo parlors may also reopen, all with added health and safety protocols.

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Capacity limits at retail establishments will be expanded to five customers per 1,000 square feet, while staff are still required to wear cloth face coverings and follow public health guidelines.

“Maine people and businesses have worked hard to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and the stabilization of cases and hospitalizations in York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin Counties help demonstrate that,” Mills said. “But this pandemic is not over. As we reopen restaurants for indoor dining and other businesses in these areas, we remain vigilant. Businesses must strictly adhere to health and safety protocols and all people should wear face coverings, stay six feet apart whenever possible, and frequently wash their hands. If we continue to protect ourselves and one another by taking these steps, we can reopen our economy in a safe way and limit the spread of this dangerous virus.”

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“Businesses and customers alike have an important role to play in turning the tide on COVID-19,” Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson said. “By continuing to follow COVID-19 Prevention health and safety protocols, we can protect the health of Maine people and the health of our economy.”

“Maine’s hard work has limited the devasting impact of COVID-19 compared to other eastern seaboard states. To keep it that way, the Department will intensify its efforts on testing, contact tracing, and public health education as restaurants and other establishments open statewide,” Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said.

The Maine CDC says in Androscoggin County, the average number of new daily cases began increasing in early May and has plateaued at roughly 10 cases per day. Similarly, Cumberland County experienced a gradual increase in cases in May, with another increase in late May related to an outbreak at Cape Memory Care. In the past week, the number of new daily cases has stabilized at roughly 20 per day. In York County, new daily cases are averaging between 5-7 per day.

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Hospitalization rates show a similar trend. In Androscoggin County, roughly five people are hospitalized with COVID-19 at any one time, approximately two of whom are in intensive care. In Cumberland County, hospitalizations reached a peak in late May as a result of the outbreak at Cape Memory Care. Over the past week, hospitalizations in Cumberland County have held steady at roughly 25 individuals, approximately seven of whom are in ICUs. The same trend was seen in York County, where hospitalizations also peaked in late May, with roughly five ICU patients and three non-ICU patients. In the past week, however, rates have stabilized, with approximately three ICU patients and three non-ICU patients at any one time.

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The Maine CDC says the public health risk posed by indoor dining is higher than that of other indoor activities, and higher than that from outdoor dining, because remaining seated in an enclosed space for an extended period of time can increase the risk of exposure. 

“We’ll continue to monitor the data closely,” Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah said. “Maine people have limited potential spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 by being responsible in physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and handwashing since March, and we trust that high level of responsibility will continue as restaurants throughout the state reopen.”

Mills says the Maine CDC and state officials will continue to monitor the situation.

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