Science, public health, and collaboration will drive Maine’s phased-in approach to reopening the economy when the time is right
Governor Janet Mills today outlined her vision for a gradual and safe reopening of Maine’s economy amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
She said that reopening too soon, and too aggressively, would likely cause further sickness and loss of life, and asserted that Maine’s approach to reopening will be driven by public health considerations, facts, and science.
“While we all dream of going back to the way things were, we have to face the hard truth that the coronavirus continues to be a threat and that life will not return to normal soon. Instead, we have to invent a new normal – a different way of doing business, shopping, traveling, and recreating that keeps all of us safe,” said Governor Mills.
“In the coming weeks, my Administration will continue to assess the impact of the coronavirus in Maine and engage with various sectors of the Maine economy to determine how they can safely reopen at the right time in the right way. This will be a gradual process to protect the health of Maine people while restarting our economy.”
Forty-four people have died in Maine so far from COVID-19. The total number of cases in Maine is 937, an increase of 30 cases in a 24-hour period. There are 229 health care workers who have been infected with COVID-19.
Reflecting on these numbers, Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned, “We are still in the middle of things.”
Both Dr. Shah and Governor Mills expressed concerns about a possible second spike in the number of cases in Maine if the economy is reopened too quickly. “We need to stay the course,” said Governor Mills.
“Science continues to guide Maine’s strategy on COVID-19,”said Dr. Shah.“Ensuring the health and safety of Maine people, which includes taking steps to reduce the risk of a second surge of the virus, remains our priority.”
The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) plans to solicit ideas from representatives of industries and various sectors of Maine’s economy on how they can develop protocols that will allow them to safely resume operations or activities once the public health benchmarks are met.
“Since the Stay Healthy at Home Order was issued, the Department has worked in close partnership and collaboration with the public and private sector to provide the most transparent process possible,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). “These have been challenging times for Maine’s economy and as we work to reopen the state it will take thoughtful collaboration to ensure that we effectively prioritize public health while reopening businesses sectors.”
DECD will work in close partnership with different economic sectors to analyze business practices, consider modifications to prioritize safety and security, and consult with public health experts to confirm that such modifications will be effective to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. These accommodations may be as simple as closing break rooms, providing flexible working hours, and installing plexiglass shields, or as complex as adjusting a business’ sales process to ensure employee and customer safety.
To that end, Governor Mills launched today a portal through the Department of Economic and Community Development to serve as an avenue for business owners, employees, and Maine residents to offer their ideas. The portal can be accessed at www.maine.gov/decd.
“We invite all Maine people to take part in the discussion,” said Governor Mills. “Give us your specific ideas on how we can do things differently, how we can restart the economy and keep all our people safe and healthy. We want to hear from you.”
The Governor’s Stay Healthy At Home Order remains in effect through April 30th.