Monday marks a big change for mask wearing in Maine: face coverings are no longer required in outdoor public spaces.
Maine had already lifted its blanket outdoor mask mandate but now, people in the state don't have to wear a mask in other places outdoors, like restaurant patios and takeout lines, unless it's required by the facility’s operator.
Maine’s indoor mask mandate was also lifted on Monday for people who are vaccinated, though they will be required for everyone in certain settings, like schools and public transit. And all capacity limits were removed in public settings, whether indoors or outdoors.
In Kennebunkport on Monday, visitors from out of state welcomed the news and some were excited to remove their masks while others said they preferred to wear them because they though it made people around them comfortable.
“I’m noticing that more and more people are going inside without their masks,” said Melissa Webb of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
She said that, while “I’m vaccinated, I wear mine regardless.”
Ben Franklin of Columbia, Tennessee, said, “We’re from Tennessee, have had a lot of freedom there the past year, hated to see everyone go through COVID but we feel like it’s in the past now and masks should be gone.”
For business owners, there is a similar mix of opinions on whether or not to require masks in their stores and coffee shops.
For Anette Barba, the owner of Dock Square Coffee House, it was time to drop mask requirements.
“I’m relieved not have to wear a mask anymore and to no longer have to enforce it,” she said, explaining that most of her staff is either fully vaccinated or expecting a second dose of the vaccine soon, and that anyone, a customer or employee, can still wear a mask in the café if they choose to.
“We’re trying to accommodate everyone,” Barba added.
A short distance down the street, at Karleen’s Ideas, a store that sells sensory items, jewel art and sewn items, owner Karleen Frost said a protocol that requires customers to put on masks and ring a doorbell before entering the store will remain in place until “70% of Americans are vaccinated.”
Frost said that would make her feel more comfortable because “a lot of the work I do is for children with autism. They may have other comorbidities so I want to make sure this is a safe store for them to shop in.”
Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, made the decision in mid-May to align the state rules with the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In making their announcement on the mask changes on May 14, Maine officials said businesses would be allowed to set their own rules on masking and could require people to show proof of vaccination before entry if they wish to.
Maine officials are still recommending that people who are not yet vaccinated against coronavirus wear a mask indoors.