CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (AP) — Maine is removing capacity limits and easing physical distancing restrictions ahead of what it hopes will be a busier summer tourist season this year.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said Thursday the state will lift all capacity limits and requirements to physically distance in outdoor settings starting May 24. That same day, the state will remove all capacity limits in public indoor venues.
Maine will also eliminate physical distancing requirements indoors, other than in settings in which people are eating or drinking such as restaurants and bars. The state is still calling for facial coverings to be worn in public indoor settings, officials said.
The changes will come ahead of Memorial Day weekend, which often marks the beginning of Maine's tourism season. The changes will “continue to allow for additional capacity for businesses and non-profits to safely plan for a robust tourism season,” said Heather Johnson, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
Mills said the relaxed guidelines are a product of the fact Maine has made progress in vaccinating tis residents. She said health workers in Maine have provided at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than 70% of adults in the state.
“The fact is the more people get vaccinated, the faster we will be able to get back to normal,” Mills said.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday that the total number of positive coronavirus cases in the state has surpassed 65,000. However, cases were starting to trend downward.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 318.00 new cases per day on April 27 to 270.00 new cases per day on May 11. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 1.43 deaths per day on April 27 to 1.00 deaths per day on May 11.
The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
Maine has been the site of 798 deaths from coronavirus, Maine CDC reported.
VIRTUAL ROAD RACE
One of Maine’s most beloved road races will again be a virtual event this year.
Organizers of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K are concerned about holding the race during the coronavirus pandemic and have chosen not to have an in-person event this year, the Portland Press Herald reported. The race typically takes place on the first Saturday of August.
This year’s virtual event will allow participants to run 10 kilometers on the route of their choice in late July or early August.
An in-person event would have required changes that prevented the event from being “the celebratory, gala event that people are accustomed to,” race president David Backer said in a Thursday statement.
Olympic gold medal winner Joan Benoit Samuelson founded the Cape Elizabeth race, which began in 1998.