Restaurant owners in three Maine counties will have to wait to open to dine-in customers, Gov. Janet Mills announced Wednesday, saying those areas have seen higher rates of coronavirus hospitalizations.
In a news conference, Mills said restaurants in York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties would not be able to offer indoor dining on June 1, the date the governor had hoped to allow eateries across the state to reopen.
Restaurants in those three counties will be allowed to offer outdoor dining, she said.
Eateries in all other Maine counties will be able to offer indoor dining on June 1, when Phase 2 of Mills' reopen plan goes into effect.
"We believe this change is safer for the health of Maine people and that it balances the economic needs of these businesses with the priority, health care of Maine people," she said.
"I know this is not welcome news for those restaurants who have been preparing to fully reopen next week. It is our hope that by reopening for outdoor dining and curbside pickup and takeout, we can still protect the health and perhaps lessen the economic hardship that these business are enduring."
Mills added that officials would keep an eye on key data to determine when restaurants in the three counties could reopen.
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The resumption of indoor dining adds to the list of activities that have been allowed to resume under Mills' phased reopening plan.
Personal services such as barber shops and pet groomers have been allowed to reopen, as have campgrounds, in the first phase of reopening.
Phase 2 is expected to see the reopening of lodging businesses, including hotels, to Maine residents and out-of-state residents who have completed quarantine guidelines.
As of Wednesday, the state had reported 2,137 cases of COVID-19, including 81 fatalities.