Maine lets out-of-state visitors book rooms beginning July 1

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine lodge operators and innkeepers can begin accepting reservations starting June 1 for Maine residents and out-of-state residents who comply with the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement, officials said Thursday.

The move represents a loosening of restrictions that originally forbade out-of-state residents from reserving a room with an arrival date before July 1.

“We will continue to work closely with the tourism industry to make progress as we head into the summer,” said Commissioner Heather Johnson of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

This change comes as Gov. Janet Mills’ administration reexamines the 14-day quarantine requirement. The administration is seeking an alternative that still protects the health of Mainers.

Maine’s lodging industry has said the 14-day quarantine could be a deal breaker for tourists this summer.

“For communities like Old Orchard Beach, the mandate is not just a strain on our economy, it is a devastating blow,” said Rep. Lori Gramlich, a Democrat from Old Orchard Beach, a busy tourist destination.

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TESTING DATA

Maine’s weekly reports on coronavirus testing, instead of daily summaries like those conducted by other states, are adequate for tracking the virus, the Maine Center for Disease Control says.

The lack of daily reports means delays in monitoring the number of people testing positive — a key metric in tracking the virus’ spread and detecting new flare-ups — the Portland Press Herald reported Thursday.

Robert Long, spokesman for the Maine CDC, said the state finds the weekly reports to be adequate.

“Other states with significantly more cases might find greater value in measuring testing trends from day to day, but week-to-week trend analysis has met our needs to date,” Long said in an email.

Dr. Patrick Remington, professor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, said Maine’s once-a-week approach deprives the state of complete information.

“The more information we have, the better decision making can be,” he told the newspaper. “It just doesn’t make very good math sense not to take advantage of the fact that every day you have a new piece of information.”

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JOBLESS CLAIMS

Mainers submitted about 21,000 new jobless claims last week, the Maine Department of Labor said Thursday.

About 11,500 claims were filed by self-employed workers and independent contractors who became eligible for jobless benefits under a new federal program approved by Congress.

All told, Mainers have received more than $400 million in jobless benefits since March 15 compared with $77 million for all of 2019.

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FIREWORKS CANCELED

Portland canceled the state’s largest Fourth of July fireworks display, traditionally held on the city’s eastern promenade.

City Manager Jon Jennings was forced to make the decision because large social gatherings are not permitted and budget constraints preclude the city from covering the expense this year.

Other communities, including Bangor, have canceled their Independence Day events. Bangor plans to hold its Fourth of July parade on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

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