Gov. Janet Mills on Friday issued an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces.

The order requires that "owners and operators of all indoor public spaces – regardless of the type of entity or size – must not allow those who refuse to wear a face covering to enter or remain in their venue."

Earlier executive orders required enforcement in some but not all public settings.

"We know masks can stop the spread. But we need people to wear them," Mills said in a statement. "This Executive Order is aimed at ensuring that we are protecting people in stores, protecting store employees, and keeping Maine people healthy."

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Friday's order comes as the state experience increasing numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths because of the coronavirus.

Business leaders expressed their support for the governor's order.

"Protecting the health of Maine people and our state’s workforce also protects Maine’s economic health, and wearing a mask is one of the easiest and most effective ways to do that," Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said. "This is simple: if you care about Maine businesses, you will wear a mask."

The order also clarifies that claiming a medical exemption is not an excuse to enter or remain in an establishment without a face covering.

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