Maine Gov. Janet Mills on Monday announced that restaurants in three counties would be allowed to offer indoor dining services later this week, after being delayed due to higher numbers of coronavirus cases than other areas.
Restaurants in York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties can begin serving diners inside beginning Wednesday, Mills said, joining restaurants in other counties that were able to do so starting June 1.
"I know many have been waiting anxiously for this announcement," Mills said, acknowledging the decision to delay indoor dining in those areas had been difficult.
Bars, breweries and tasting rooms in those counties can offer outdoor services, she said. Nail salons, tattoo parlors and gyms can also begin reopening Wednesday.
Mill stressed that all businesses that plan to reopen must adhere to social distancing and safety guidelines, including mask-wearing. She urged residents to continue practicing social distancing, proper hygiene and mask-wearing, warning that a second wave of coronavirus cases could arrive if people aren't careful.
The governor said the average number of daily positive cases of COVID-19 had plateaued at around 10 in Androscoggin County, 20 in Cumberland County and between five and seven in York County.
Moreover, hospitalizations had stabilized in all three counties, Mills said, giving her confidence to all the restaurants to offer indoor dining.
In addition, Mills said the state was loosening guidelines for retail stores, increasing the maximum number of customers per 1000 square feet to five.
As of Monday, the state had reported 2,810 cases of COVID-19, including 101 fatalities.
Health officials said Monday the seven-day positivity rate had fallen below one percent for the first time, which was taken as a positive sign in the state's battle against the virus.
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Mills on Friday accelerated the date that lodging businesses can welcome out-of-state visitors, citing encouraging signs in several testing benchmarks during the pandemic.
Lodging establishments can welcome out-of-state visitors on June 26, instead of July 1, as long as they meet the 14-day quarantine requirement or the new testing alternative. New Hampshire and Vermont residents are exempt from the requirements and were allowed to book rooms effective Friday.
The Mills administration said the move allows more tourists to spend the week leading up to the Fourth of July in Maine.