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Campgrounds allowed to open for Memorial Day weekend, some other business sectors delayed

(WCAX)
Published: May. 19, 2020 at 2:13 PM EDT
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Maine residents will be able to enjoy campgrounds, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

This announcement was made at Tuesday's Maine CDC briefing.

Private campgrounds, not state-run campgrounds, are now allowed to open to ONLY Maine residents.

This is an acceleration of the original reopening date of June 1st.

The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development has posted a checklist for campground owners to abide by as they begin reopening.

DECD Commissioner, Heather Johnson says, "Things that will be different are no gatherings larger than 10, there will be distance between campsites that maybe weren't there before. Some of the congregate spaces will be closed and some of the cleaning procedures will be different. So, a number of things will be different. We hope that there are enough things the same that people can really enjoy the outdoors and do it safely."

The head of the Maine CDC,. Doctor Nirav Shah says there are some things campers should keep in mind.

He says, "Stay with your household. Even though a lot of the opportunities for congregate settings across households will be removed, it's still a good opportunity to stay with your household to make sure that you're not interacting with other folks who you never know what their COVID exposure might be. So, staying within your household is one of the best ways to stay safe."

Doctor Shah also reminds campers to check for ticks, and to wear bug spray and use sunscreen.

However, the Governor did announce Tuesday she's delaying the reopening for gyms, fitness centers and nail salons.

They were scheduled to be back in business on June 1st.

In a news release, the governor says new studies have raised concerns about the transmission of the virus in gyms due to large numbers of people in relatively small spaces.

Gyms and fitness centers are currently allowed to have outside classes of less than 10 participants and one-on-one instruction inside.

Mills has delayed the opening of nail salons after new evidence that California identified the establishments as a source of COVID-19 community transmission.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner, Jeanne Lambrew says, "In nail salons it is are face-to-face. There is somebody that you are looking at. This is an aerosolized respiratory disease, that may pose more risk than people in proximate settings but maybe not as close in your face as others. All that said, we continue to look, to study and see what we can do. We thought it was prudent to take this half-step now."

The governor plans to announce new re-start dates for nail salons and indoor gyms and fitness centers in early June.

Full statement from the Office of the Governor:

Augusta, MAINE – The Mills Administration announced today the following updates to its plan to restart Maine’s economy: 1) Maine residents may enjoy campgrounds beginning Memorial Day weekend; and 2) the Administration is delaying the full reopening of gyms, fitness centers, and nail salons in light of emerging research and experiences in other states of COVID-19 transmission related to these establishments.

“We believe allowing private campgrounds to open with strict health and safety precautions to Maine residents minimizes risks while supporting mental and physical health, particularly during the long Memorial Day weekend,” said Governor Janet Mills. “We also believe that it is appropriate to delay the reopening of gyms and nail salons, both of which appear to present a greater risk of transmission of the virus based on emerging science and the experiences of other states. It is important that the plan remain flexible and that we take steps to update it when necessary in order to both protect public health and support our economy.”

With these updates, campgrounds, including RV parks, may now reopen with enhanced health and safety precautions to Maine residents only beginning on Friday, May 22, 2020, an acceleration of the previously identified reopening date of June 1 (Stage 2). This change is similar to the current policies of New Hampshire and Vermont regarding campgrounds. The Mills Administration worked with campgrounds to develop a COVID-19 Prevention Checklist, which was posted on May 14. Campgrounds that follow this guidance can offer Maine residents of all ages an opportunity to safely hike, fish, bird watch, star gaze, boat and even swim this weekend that marks the start of summer. Maine has a long-standing tradition of embracing the outdoors, which has the additional benefit of promoting public health during this global pandemic

The Mills Administration is also delaying the full reopening of gyms and fitness centers, originally scheduled for June 1 (Stage 2), in light of new studies raising concerns about the transmission of the virus in such settings due to large numbers of people in relatively small spaces with moist, warm atmospheres coupled with turbulent air flow generated by intense physical exercise. Gyms and fitness centers are currently allowed to conduct outside classes of less than 10 participants and one-on-one instruction inside.

Additionally, the Mills Administration is delaying the re-opening of nail salons, also originally scheduled for June 1 (Stage 2), after the State of California identified the establishments as a source of COVID-19 community transmission. While claims continue to be reviewed, some preliminary evidence suggests that the close, face-to-face contact between clients and professionals could increase risk of transmission. Maine is assessing such evidence and expects to announce new re-start dates for nail salons and indoor gyms and fitness centers in early June.

“We continuously review evidence nationwide and in Maine to guide our actions to safely restart Maine’s economy,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. “As we did today, we expect to both slow down and accelerate different types of activities based on this evidence and trends within Maine to keep our state safe and strong.”

“We appreciate the ongoing partnership with the business community,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “This is an incredibly difficult time for businesses, and we appreciate their creativity as we work together to develop solutions that keep people safe and create opportunities for businesses.”

Aside from these updates outlined above, there are no changes to the plan at this time. Half way into the first month of Stage One of Restarting Maine’s Economy, Maine remains near the bottom compared to other states in its per-capita COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The State strives daily to improve its prevention, detection, and containment of COVID-19 so Maine can restart as safely and as soon as possible.