In this Nov. 6, 2020, file photo, a mask-wearing man walks by a an art print of a mask-wearing figure at Space Galley in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Workers at local stores who encounter people who won’t comply with Maine mask requirements shouldn’t have to enforce the rules themselves, the state’s governor said.

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, issued an executive order last week that requires people in the state to wear a mask in all public places, regardless of their ability to socially distance. She said during an appearance on Maine Public that too much of the burden of enforcement often lands on store employees.

Mills recommended residents who encounter people who aren’t following the mask rules talk to store managers or local authorities.

“I don’t want to put it on the frontline workers who are often young people working at minimum wage jobs. They’re not the COVID cops, and I don’t want to put that on them,” Mills said. “But they can call the police, and they can call the local code enforcement officer or health officer.”

Mills’ statement came at a time of alarming virus numbers: Maine recorded more than 200 new coronavirus cases and one new death on Thursday as officials warily monitored growing weekly rates. The seven-day rolling average for daily cases rose to 165.9, which is five times the average from a month ago, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are active cases in all 16 counties. Five of the counties are now classified as having high or substantial community transmission: Franklin, Knox, Somerset, Waldo and Washington counties, officials said.

The total number of positive test reports since the pandemic began has grown to nearly 8,400.

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