Gov. Janet Mills will end a 9 p.m. curfew in place since November for certain businesses effective Monday, she announced Thursday.
The Democratic governor cited improving public health metrics, including a decrease in Maine’s rates of positive COVID-19 tests and new cases, though she cautioned that the pandemic is far from over and urged Mainers to wear marks and social distance.
“We are beginning to round the corner on the post-holiday surge of COVID-19,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.
Thursday marked one of the lowest daily increases in new cases Maine has seen on a weekday since late fall. Virus transmission has steadily fallen both in Maine and nationally over the past two weeks. It’s not yet clear what has caused new cases to plummet, but it could be a sign that the surge in virus transmission that occurred over the end-of-year holidays is passing.
The early business closure was set in place ahead of Thanksgiving to address a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission during the later hours when people are more likely to lower their guard and not adhere to critical public health and safety measures, she said. It was criticized by many in the hospitality industry, but Mills extended it on Dec. 30.
Maine is the second state in New England to remove similar limits this week. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker lifted the 9:30 p.m. closing restriction in that state on Monday. New Hampshire has been the only state in the region to not institute such a restriction.
In Maine, the curfew applied to all outdoor and indoor amusement venues, movie theaters, performing arts venues, casinos and businesses that provide seated food and drink service. That includes social clubs, restaurants, and bars and tasting rooms open for outdoor service.