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Gov. Janet Mills is now allowing visitors from five states to come to Maine without requiring a negative coronavirus test or a 14-day quarantine, but not all of those states are as open to Mainers.
The governor in early June allowed New Hampshire and Vermont residents to come to Maine for short visits without tests or quarantines as of June 12. She extended that to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut visitors starting on Friday.
The goal is to stoke the economy by letting in visitors from nearby states with lower rates of the coronavirus, while Mainers visiting states outside those five still must quarantine for 14 days upon returning home.
But there are caveats with Maine’s two closest neighbors, New Hampshire and Vermont. New Hampshire greets Mainers heading south on Interstate 95 with a brightly lit sign reminding them that they have to self-quarantine for 14 days to visit the state.
Vermont uses active case counts by county to determine who can visit for leisure without a quarantine, and provides a map on its website to show case counts. Those from counties that have 400 cases per million people or higher must quarantine.
That allows people from every Maine county to visit without quarantining except for those in Cumberland and Androscoggin counties, which respectively have 1,042 and 640 active cases per million people, according to its map, which uses data from Johns Hopkins University.
Residents who live in Androscoggin and Cumberland counties and travel to Vermont in their personal vehicle would have to complete a 14-day quarantine or a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test in their home state. If they arrive in Vermont by public transit they must do the same but they could quarantine in a Vermont lodging establishment or with friends or family.
All out-of-state travelers using lodging, camping and short-term rental properties in Vermont must sign and complete a certificate of compliance to attest that they have met all quarantine requirements. Maine also requires a compliance form.
The three new states added today allow Mainers to visit without quarantine. All three last week said they have created lists of states with high infection rates from which visitors will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Those lists include states with a higher than 10 percent positivity rate, which reflects the percentage of tests that are positive for the virus. The lists covered 16 states as of Tuesday and include Arizona and California.
Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents still must quarantine or have a negative test result to visit Maine. However, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday lifted that state’s restrictions to allow the other five New England states plus New York and New Jersey to visit quarantine-free due to declining coronavirus cases in those states.
Rhode Island requires visitors coming from states with a COVID-19 positivity rate greater than 5 percent to self-quarantine for 14 days while in Rhode Island or produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Mainers need not quarantine.
The quarantine and test restrictions have been criticized by the hotel industry, whose proponents say they are cumbersome and keep people away. Hoteliers and potential guests alike have complained that the tests aren’t readily available in their home states.
Mills said during a press conference last Friday that with the Canadian border closed, most travelers to Maine have to come through New Hampshire anyway.
“New Hampshire has abundant testing,” Mills said. “There’s no reason why someone driving to Maine, inevitably driving through New Hampshire, can’t find a place to get a test.”