Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday signed an executive order requiring businesses in more populous areas of Maine to enforce the state's face covering requirement. She also extended Maine's state of civil emergency for 30 days.

Specifically, the order requires large retail businesses, restaurants, outdoor bars, tasting rooms, and lodging establishments in Maine’s more populous cities and coastal counties to require that workers and patrons wear a face covering.

Under the order, face coverings will be required in retail stores with more than 50,000 square feet of shopping space, restaurants, outdoor bars or tasting rooms, and lodging establishments. It applies to businesses in Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, and York counties. It will also to apply to the cities of Bangor, Brewer, Lewiston, Auburn, and Augusta.

The state also established a reporting form for alleged violations of the state’s health and safety protocols.

In explaining the order, Mills said the mask requirement is all the more important as Maine's economy opens amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"It is important that we wear face coverings as people begin to interact more and more," Mills said. "Doing so can slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the health and safety of those around us, support businesses and allow us to safely reopen our economy. I know it may be inconvenient for some, but I also believe that Maine people care about each other, and this simple gesture is a small price to pay for knowing you could save someone’s life."

The order also allows municipalities to enforce the use of face coverings on streets and sidewalks, in parks and other public spaces where individuals are not able to maintain at least six feet of physical distance.

Mills' extension of the civil emergency is the fourth since the pandemic began in March. Nearly every other state in the nation has extended its state civil emergency. The designation helps the state more quickly dopey federal and state resources to fight the pandemic.

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