A sign from Puritan announcing the company is hiring sits in the middle of Guilford on May 29, 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — People receiving unemployment benefits in Maine will be required to apply to jobs each week after the state reinstates full work search requirements later this month, the Maine Department of Labor announced Thursday.

The agency cited the wide availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and the resurgence of jobs with tourism season on the way. About 44,000 Mainers were receiving unemployment benefits as of last week.

Maine initially waived the work search requirement for people receiving unemployment benefits at the start of the pandemic, when many businesses were shut down. The state brought the requirement back in part amid loosening restrictions last summer, but allowed unemployed workers to engage in job-related education, training or networking instead of applying for jobs amid concerns about workplace health and access to child care.

With the return to full work requirements, people receiving unemployment benefits will be required to actively look for work and accept a job offer if it fits their skills set. Self-employed workers receiving unemployment benefits under a federal program will have to attest that they are working toward fully reopening their businesses. A person who refuses a job offer could lose unemployment benefits.