Gov. Janet Mills is ending Maine’s state of emergency this month, citing a decline of COVID-19 infections and rising numbers of vaccinated people.
The emergency order and any remaining COVID-19 restrictions, which have been in effect for more than a year, will expire on June 30 as the state moves beyond the pandemic.
Mill said the move is “a milestone that reflects the progress Maine has made in getting people vaccinated, reducing the spread of the virus, and getting back to normal.
“Maine people have persevered, and, although challenges remain, we will get through them together just as we did this past year,” the Democrat said in a statement. “I congratulate and thank Maine people for all they have done to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their fellow citizens.”
State health officials are still recommending that unvaccinated people – including those under 12 who are not yet eligible for a COVID vaccine – continue to wear face coverings indoors.
Education Commissioner Pender Makin said the continued precautions will “help protect the health and safety of students and staff as COVID-19 continues to impact our communities.”
Maine’s state of emergency was issued on March 15, 2020, and Mills has extended the order 16 times.
Under Maine law, a state of emergency must be renewed every 30 days or it expires. Mills’ most recent extension was to expire on Sunday, but she extended it until June 30 “to ensure an orderly transition” and give state departments more time to adjust.
“During this time, departments will identify any policies that may need temporary extensions past June 30, 2021, such as flexibilities for child care providers and home-and community-based services given ongoing pandemic-related challenges,” the Mills administration said in a statement.
Mills had already removed a majority of the state’s COVID-19 related restrictions in recent weeks, including a statewide mask mandate and limits on capacity for businesses.
More than 73% of Mainers age 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 64.9% are fully vaccinated, according to the Maine Centers for Disease Control.
Like other states, Maine has seen a decline in the number of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks.
As of Sunday, there were 48 individuals hospitalized with the virus, including 28 patients in intensive care units, according to the Maine CDC.
The state’s 14-day positivity rate has declined in recent weeks and is currently around 1.6% of all COVID-19 tests, the agency reported.
As of Sunday, Maine had reported at least 68,590 COVID-19 cases and 845 deaths since the outbreak began.
This article was originally posted on Maine’s state of emergency to end on June 30