Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday announced her administration would exempt residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from Maine's mandate of a 14-day quarantine or a negative COVID-19 test before visiting the state.

The exemptions will take effect on Friday, July 3.

Those three states join New Hampshire and Vermont, which were already granted exemptions from the quarantine or testing requirement based on low positive rates and encouraging downward trends.

Although they are now exempt, visitors from these states still should obtain a test before visiting Maine, Mills said, just to know their status. Visitors can find COVID-19 testing sites near them here.

Residents of all other states must either quarantine for 14 days upon arriving to the state or test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their visit.

The announcement comes as Maine's tourism and lodging industries gear up for the Independence Day weekend.

Tony Cameron, CEO of Maine Tourism Association, issued the following statement in response to the news.

"Today I am encouraged as we take another step in reopening our economy and supporting the tourism industry. The decision to add three Northeastern states to the exempt status is welcome news to the Maine Tourism Association and others in the hospitality sector," Cameron said. "The industry is committed to following all health protocols set forth in the Keep Maine Healthy plan."

Mills also said she will issue an executive order requiring large retail stores, lodging establishements and restaurants in coastal counties -- Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, and York -- as well as larger metropolitan areas -- including Brewer and Bangor and Lewiston and Auburn -- to enforce the state's face covering requirement.

The order applies to those areas because of an expected influx of visitors in the summer months.

In the last week, states including North Carolina, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon, have implemented similar measures related to face coverings, given the evidence that masks significantly reduce transmission of the virus, Mills said. Those orders come amid an alarming resurgence of the disease in certain areas of the country.

Also on Wednesday, the University of Maine System announced its framework for reopening campuses in the fall.

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