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Gov. Janet Mills extends stay home order past June 1 with no expiration date

Governor Janet Mills addresses the people at a Maine CDC press conference.

AUGUSTA – Just after she announced the controversial decision to rescind the June 1 date for restaurants in three Maine counties to re-open, sparking outcry and protests, Maine Governor Janet Mills announced Friday that she was extending her stay at home order beyond the June 1 deadline. The new order “will remain in effect until rescinded.”

While Mills’ statement suggests she is relaxing the order, calling it a “gradual easing”, her controversial face mask order has taken a step backward, becoming more restrictive.

Item six of the statement Mills released with the announcement says the order allows businesses “to deny entry or service to a person not wearing” a face covering “or who is exempt from doing so.”

Many businesses have been careful to ensure customers know that they respect the customers’ medical privacy and some individuals may have sound medical reasons to avoid wearing a facemask. That now appears to be taking a step backward, along with requiring the businesses to post signage about the mask requirement.

Other components of the order include an extension on the ban on public transportation and restrictions on who can travel in a private vehicle.

“It is my responsibility to protect the health and wellbeing of Maine people and to support our economy. Throughout this reopening process, I will continue to fight to strike that balance,” said Governor Mills.

“This Executive Order allows for the gradual lifting of restrictions as we continue to reopen our economy. I continue to ask Maine people to stay home whenever possible, not only to protect themselves but to protect others as well, like our frontline workers. If and when you do go out, I urge you to stay local and shop local, to stay at least six feet apart from others, to wear a face covering, and, as always, to wash your hands and practice good hygiene. Staying vigilant will save lives and allow us to safely reopen our economy.”

While Governor Mills is holding tight to the power granted her under emergency legislation, there are rumblings on the left and right about the legislature reclaiming that power.

For weeks, Republican lawmakers have been speaking out and challenging Mills’ unchecked authority, some Democratic lawmakers have now engaged in attempting to assert their authority. For now, however, it appears that Speaker Sara Gideon is uninterested in bringing back the legislature to reclaim authority.

Gideon has taken criticism for her refusal to come back and work toward a more refined reopening plan. That criticism has centered around her focus on campaigning for U.S. Senate instead of working to fix the dozens of critical problems facing people across Maine as parts of Maine’s economy were brought to a standstill.

Mills is also facing multiple lawsuits, including a class action suit brought by Maine businesses and a suit from an Orrington Church demanding their First Amendment rights be protected from Mills’ orders.

Mills also says her order permits Mainers to visit businesses that had previously been deemed non-essential under the phases of her reopening plan.

Until yesterday’s order, Governor Mills’ has issued her executive orders with a definite date of expiration. A fourth protest of Governor Mills’ continued restrictions is planned today in Augusta.

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