Gov. Mills relaxes outdoor mask rule
By Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News Staff
Gov. Janet Mills lifted Maine’s outdoor mask requirement on Tuesday after federal health officials said both those vaccinated and unvaccinated against the coronavirus are safe to go outside without face coverings in certain situations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance Tuesday saying anyone, whether vaccinated or not, should be able to walk, bike or run alone or with household members and not wear masks.
Fully vaccinated people can also go maskless in small outdoor gatherings.
The U.S. CDC recommends that those not fully vaccinated keep wearing masks at outdoor gatherings with other unvaccinated people and at restaurants.
Everyone should wear masks at crowded outdoor events or indoor public places.
Maine appears to be following suit, with masks still required for outdoor settings where social distancing is challenging and indoor public settings. The change is effective immediately, with further guidance to come in the next few days.
Mills attributed part of the shift to the upcoming summer months, which she said would provide an outlet for people to get outside, where transmission is less likely. She urged people to continue wearing masks and get vaccinated “so that we can get this pandemic fully behind us.”
The shift comes days before the state plans to relax travel restrictions, allowing anyone in the country to travel to Maine without quarantining aside from a few states with particularly high case counts. As of Tuesday, 13 states had lifted their mask mandates in some form, including New Hampshire, according to AARP. Those states have differing requirements on whether businesses and cities are allowed to impose mandates and where masks are still required.
It comes nearly three weeks after Maine opened up vaccinations to the general public as a way to boost flagging participation rates. Maine has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with 36 percent of the adult population having received their final doses, according to a New York Times tracker. But the pandemic is still very present in the Pine Tree State. Maine recorded an additional 425 cases and five deaths on Tuesday.