Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday issued a statewide executive order for all non-essential businesses to close their doors to the public starting Wednesday for 14 days.

The order, which comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, applies to businesses such as malls, salons, casinos, gyms and theaters.

The order does not include businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, trash collection, pharmacies, day cares, banks, hospitals, home and auto repair and other essential services.

For those essential businesses that do remain open, Mills urged Mainers only to go when necessary.

"Go to the store only when you really need something," Mills said Tuesday. "Stay away from people. It's not the time for discretionary shopping."

Mills stressed that non-essential businesses can conduct business, just not in person. For instance, she said, a local bookstore could accept online orders.

Businesses can petition to be considered essential under the mandate.

Mills had already ordered Maine restaurants to close to dine-in customers until March 31. Many restaurants are still doing business with delivery or curbside pickup service.

In the latest order, Mills also required essential business that are open to the public to implement "social distancing" requirements for their employees and customers.

She also said while she can't close the Maine border, she urged those who wanted to visit the state to stay home.

"If they believe they can escape the virus by coming here, they are wrong," Mills said. "It is here. It is everywhere."

Mills has not issued a "shelter-in-place" order for Mainers, as has been the case in more densely populated states including California, Delaware and New York.

As of Tuesday, March 24, there were 118 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maine, according to state officials. Twelve people have been hospitalized. There have been 3,014 negative tests. There have been no deaths.

Thus far, the cases are centered mostly in southern Maine, with the majority in Cumberland County. On Tuesday, Waldo County recorded its first case. The virus has been recorded in 10 Maine counties.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused local schools throughout the state and the nation to send students home as well as the cancellation or postponement of many public events, including major sporting events such as the National Basketball Association season and the Major League Baseball season.


For more information on COVID-19, visit the CDC website.

For information on cases in Maine, visit the Maine CDC website.

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