A woman carries a plant as she walks in front of the shuttered Nickelodeon Cinema in Portland in this March file photo. Movie theaters are among the businesses that will be allowed to reopen on July 1, but a 50-person gathering limit may prove challenging for many of them. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Movie theaters, indoor and outdoor amusements and performing arts venues can reopen in Maine on July 1 subject to a 50-person gathering limit under guidelines released Wednesday by Gov. Janet Mills’ administration.

Health and safety checklists under the Democratic governor’s economic reopening plan were released a week before a third group of businesses can reopen after being closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Those businesses include outdoor and indoor amusements, movie theaters, performing arts venues, overnight summer camps and spas. All must fill out an online form saying they will comply with the checklists.

The group is among the most challenged of the categories of businesses yet to reopen in figuring how to operate while limiting themselves to 50 people in shared spaces with at least 6 feet of distance between parties.

Larger movie theaters will be allowed to admit a relatively large number of people since the 50-person limit will apply per enclosed theater. Bowling, laser tag and escape room facilities may be able to meet the limits easily, but they would be more difficult to adhere to at indoor performing arts venues.

Many of Maine’s most prominent outdoor amusements, including state fairs and parks such as Funtown Splashtown USA, have been canceled for 2020.

The state has not released rules under which casinos and raceways can operate, though they are scheduled to reopen on July 1 as well. Mills announced earlier this week that bars and indoor tasting rooms originally scheduled to be part of next week’s reopening will be closed indefinitely.

Mills said the new reopenings are a positive step for the state, but people and businesses have to remain vigilant. She said increasing case numbers in other states “are cautionary tales for Maine as we continue our reopening.”

The administration said Maine is on par or ahead of other northeastern states in reopening. Adjusted for population size, Maine ranked eighth lowest in the nation in terms of positive cases as of Monday.

Lori Valigra, investigative reporter for the environment, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...