Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Maine, US, to initiate four-stage economic reopening plan starting May 1 and extend stay-at-home order through May 31.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Bangor, Maine
  • Portland, Maine
  • Presque Isle, Maine
  • Augusta, Maine
  • Lewiston-Auburn, Maine

This alert began 30 Apr 2020 10:38 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Maine (map)
  • Time Frame: Indeifnite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Maine Governor Janet Mills extended orders requiring residents to stay at home, except to perform essential tasks, through at least May 31, while announcing the reopening of certain businesses from May 1, and the beginning of a four-state plan to restart the economy, as part of the state's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The stay-at-home order, which was set to expire April 30, stipulates residents may only leave their homes to obtain basic goods, attend a medical issue, care for a person in need, or go to work at a business or service which is allowed to operate. Residents may also perform outdoor recreational activities while maintaining a proper distance from others. Gatherings of 10 or more people will remain banned, and all residents will be required to wear cloth face coverings when in public.

Starting May 1, some businesses previously considered nonessential will be allowed to reopen with certain limitations: auto dealerships and car washes; personal care businesses such as barber shops, hair salons, and pet grooming; guided outdoor activities; golf courses; and drive-in movie theaters and religious services with attendants remaining inside their vehicles. State parks and historic sites will also reopen. Essential businesses and services allowed to continue operating are grocery shops, pharmacies, banks, fuel stations, and those in transport, security, telecommunications, utility services, and critical manufacturing. All other nonessential businesses must remain closed through at least May 31, although their employees may work from home. All lodging businesses must remain closed, with the exception of those providing housing to vulnerable populations, healthcare workers,or places operating for self-quarantine purposes. All travelers entering Maine for nonessential services must self-quarantine for 14 days since the moment of their arrival, including state residents returning from a trip.

Authorities plan to reopen the economy in phases starting with Stage 1 May 1. If COVID-19 cases continue decreasing, Stage 2 would start June 1 and would include the reopening, with limitations, of dine-in restaurants, fitness centers, retail stores, and lodging businesses for Maine residents. The limit on gatherings would increase from 10 to 50 people. Stage 3 would start between July and August and it includes the reopening of bars and additional personal care businesses, while Stage 4, which does not have an estimated start date, would imply the lifting of all businesses with safety precautions.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures are likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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