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Governor orders travelers to self-quarantine, suspends all lodging businesses

Executive order requires anyone traveling from out of state to Maine to self-quarantine for 14 days.
By Ray Routhier, Portland Press Herald Staff Writer | Apr 05, 2020

Anyone arriving in Maine is being ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days, and hotels and other lodging operations have been forced to shut down to curtail visitors from outside the state.

Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order Friday mandating that anyone who comes to Maine, regardless of where they live, must self-quarantine for 14 days to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus infection. Anyone found in violation can be charged with a Class E crime and subject to a penalty of up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine, though Mills said she hoped compliance would be voluntary.

The order also mandates the suspension of all lodging operations, including hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, inns and short-term rentals, as well as RV parks and campgrounds. Lodging operators who violate the order will be “subject to appropriate penalties,” according to the news release announcing the order.

The order for travelers to self-quarantine comes amid flaring tensions caused by people from other states coming to Maine to wait out the health crisis. On March 27, several people cut down a tree and blocked the road to a home on Vinalhaven, to force visitors from another state to self-quarantine. Maine State Police issued a statement Wednesday warning that it’s unacceptable to confront people from other states over concerns about COVID-19.

In a release announcing the order, Mills said its aim is to prevent the state’s health care system from “being overwhelmed.” The order is effective immediately and extends until at least April 30, though the lodging shutdown becomes effective Sunday at noon.

“We must all do our part,” Mills said in the release. “These actions will protect the health and safety of everyone.”

Maine law enforcement agencies are ready to enforce the executive order, but expect that out-of-staters will voluntarily comply, the way Mainers have been complying with Mills’ stay-at-home order, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. But if there are reports of “blatant” violations, law enforcement will investigate, McCausland said.

The executive order also instructs visitors not to travel to Maine if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and not to come to Maine if they are traveling from cities or areas that have been identified as infection hot spots.

Mills directed the Maine Department of Transportation, the Maine Turnpike Authority and and other state agencies to post the self-quarantine order at all major points of entry into the state. Mills’ order exempts anyone providing essential services.

Maine has more than 1,400 businesses with lodging licenses, said Greg Dugal, director of government affairs for HospitalityMaine, a statewide restaurant and lodging industry group. But some of those are seasonal and not open yet, while those that have stayed open are seeing occupancy rates “in the single digits,” he said.

“As shocked as I am, I certainly understand why this is being done,” Dugal said of the order. “We all need to stand together on this.”

 

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