March 24, 2020 Article

Legislative Alert: Governor Mills' Emergency Order Regarding Essential Businesses and Operations

This communication is intended to alert you to ongoing developments in Maine at the state and local level concerning mandatory business closures and curtailments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This afternoon, Governor Mills issued a statewide Executive Order, effective after midnight tonight (beginning on March 25th), requiring all non-essential businesses to cease activities at sites that are public facing or which require more than 10 workers to convene in space where social distancing is not possible, and requiring all “Essential Businesses and Operations” to continue their activities consistent with guidance on social distancing.

The Order defines Essential Businesses and Operations by reference to federal Department of Homeland Security guidance, as well as through a list of categories of businesses and service providers. It provides that while these essential services must stay open, they must to the maximum extent practicable have their employees work remotely and otherwise comply with six-foot social distancing for both employees and members of the public at all times (for example, when customers are standing in line). Should you have a client in a business not listed as Essential in this Order, you can file an appeal to request that a business be classified as essential.

The Order also provides a non-exhaustive list of Non-Essential Businesses, which must cease activities at sites that are public facing and thereby allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact, or at sites that require more than 10 workers to convene in space where social distancing is not possible. Non-Essential Businesses and Operations may continue those activities that do not allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact; do not require more than 10 workers to convene in space where social distancing is not possible; and are facilitated to the maximum extent practicable by employees working remotely.

The Order requires businesses covered by the Order, whether essential or non-essential, but “especially ‘big box’ stores that attract more people”, to make “all best efforts” to implement and actively enforce social distancing requirements in and around their facilities.

Governor Mills’ executive order will remain in effect until April 8th at 12 am, unless amended, rescinded or renewed. Please note that the Governor’s Executive Order does not supersede recent local orders implemented by Bangor, Brunswick, and Portland.  These orders may be more restrictive so it is important to be aware of those restrictions for clients doing business in those municipalities.

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