In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, shoppers pass by a former Clark's shoe store that is now one of several vacant retail spaces among the outlet shops in Freeport. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday said self-employed people or those who plan to return to their employer must meet a work-search requirement by Oct. 4 to continue getting state unemployment benefits.

The announcement came more than a month after workers who lost jobs permanently were required to seek work starting Aug. 9.

Mainers have filed more than 276,200 new jobless claims since March 15 and have received $1.5 billion in jobless benefits, according to the state Department of Labor. It paid out nearly $74 million in all of 2019.

The only exception to Thursday’s executive order is for individuals in medical quarantine due to potential COVID-19 exposure.

The Democratic governor said the work search requirement is being reinstated now that Maine has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country and businesses are reopening, actively seeking workers and demonstrating that work can be performed safely.

Self-employed individuals will need to show they engaged in activities designed to fully reopen their business.

Work search activities include attending a job fair or virtual job fair hosted by a Maine CareerCenter, participating in professional job-related education or skills development and applying or interviewing for a job for which a person is reasonably qualified.