PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Businesses around Maine are spending the early part of the week adopting new mask rules in the wake of new guidance from the state.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills lifted mask requirements for most of the state Monday. However, businesses are still allowed to require them if they want to.
In Portland's leafy North Deering neighborhood, businesses greeted the guidance with mixed rule changes of their own. Some shops were continuing to require the masks, while others put up signs saying “masks appreciated.” Shaw's supermarket, one of the major retailers in the area, put up a sign asking that residents who are not yet vaccinated against the coronavirus wear a mask in the store.
Hannaford Supermarkets, which has dozens of locations in Maine, is taking a similar approach, and is recommending masks for people who are not fully vaccinated. The company is not verifying vaccination status of customers or workers.
“Mask wearing by unvaccinated associates is a safety protocol that associates are expected to follow,” company spokesman Eric Blom told the Portland Press Herald. “We do not ask for verification, but it is an expectation of them.”
In other pandemic news in Maine:
New cases of the virus are continuing to trend downward.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 303.86 new cases a day on May 9 to 166.14 new cases a day on Sunday. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 0.71 deaths a day on May 9 to 2.71 deaths a day Sunday.
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.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that 824 people in the state have died of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. There have also been more than 67,000 positive cases of the virus.
More than half the state is fully vaccinated against coronavirus. The state has one of the highest percentages in the country.
Maine officials have withdrawn the state's coronavirus safety guidelines about youth sports.
The state decided to retire its COVID-19 prevention checklist system and transition to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development spokesperson Kate Foye told the Portland Press Herald.
The Maine Principals' Association has used the state guidelines to inform how youth sports are played in the state. The association's executive director, Mike Burnham, said the association will communicate with the state about the end of the guidelines.
Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.