The Mills Administration announced Friday it will extend the requirement for certain businesses statewide to close by 9:00 p.m. through Sunday, January 3, 2021. The extension, which lasts beyond New Year’s Eve, is aimed at limiting activities that lead to COVID-19 transmission, amid a sustained and dangerous increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and positivity rates in the State of Maine.
Prior to Thanksgiving, the Mills Administration announced that all outdoor and indoor amusement venues, movie theaters, performing arts venues, casinos, and businesses that provide seated food and drink service, including social clubs, restaurants, and bars and tasting rooms currently open for outdoor service, must close for the night by 9:00 p.m. through Sunday, December 6, 2020.
This limit on closing times is aimed at curbing extended evening gatherings during the holiday season when individuals, including students and family members returning to Maine from elsewhere, are more likely to lower their guard, particularly later in the evening, jeopardizing adherence to critical public health and safety guidelines.
The early closure time, however, still allows these businesses to maintain some daytime operations. Curbside pick-up and delivery service are still permitted after 9:00 p.m. Early business closing times are in line with actions taken by other states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New York.
As of Friday, the Mills Administration has committed $1,243,770,470 of the $1.25 billion in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), almost half of which has gone to support Maine businesses. Last week, the Mills Administration announced a $40 million Tourism, Hospitality and Retail Grant Program to specifically support Maine’s tourism, hospitality, and retail small businesses.
The program builds on the Mills Administration’s support for Maine businesses and employees, which includes a commitment of $295 million to backfill Maine’s Unemployment Trust Fund to support Maine businesses amidst the increased demand for unemployment benefits, as well as $8.5 million to support childcare services so Maine people can go back to work. Earlier this year, at the request of Governor Mills, the Small Business Administration allowed Maine businesses to apply for economic support loans. Additionally, the Governor and the Legislature worked together to establish a consumer loan guarantee program through FAME, in partnership with financial institutions, to provide low- or no- interest loans for eligible people in Maine.