The stay-at-home executive order Gov. Janet Mills issued Tuesday requires people in Maine to stay at home at all times unless they need to leave for an essential job or an essential personal reason, such as obtaining food, medicine, gas or health care. Here are answers to some questions that Mainers might have about the consequences of her order:

Q: Can I still go to the supermarket, pharmacy, gas station or hardware store?

A: Yes, you can, but it must be for essential household supplies and medications. Stores will be required to enforce limits on the number of customers who be can inside their building at one time.

Q: Can I go for a hike, exercise or take my dog for a walk?

A: Yes, you can still do so provided that you comply with the 6-foot physical distancing guideline. Keep in mind that most state parks and beaches are closed, to prevent large gatherings.

Q: Are there restrictions on personal travel or using public transportation?


A: Yes. The governor’s order prohibits anyone from using public transportation unless “absolutely necessary, for an essential reason, or for an essential job that cannot be done from home.” The order also stipulates that people driving private vehicles carry passengers only from their immediate household.

Q: Will essential stores and businesses be required to limit the number of customers inside at any one time?

A: Yes. The in-store customer cap will depend on the size of the store. For example, stores smaller than 7,500 square feet, such as a gas station or convenience store, can have no more than five people inside. The customer limit at a pharmacy or hardware store between 7,500 and 25,000 square feet will be 15 people. Larger stores, such as a chain supermarkets like Hannaford or Shaw’s, must limit the number of customers to 75. For stores of more than 75,000 square feet, like Lowe’s, Walmart, Target and Home Depot, the limit is 100 customers, and will require those businesses to install protective shields between customers and checkout clerks.

Q: Will stores be penalized for not enforcing the restrictions on customer limits?

A: Yes. Businesses must enforce the customer limits and make sure customers waiting in line maintain a 6-foot separation, or they will face the prospect of further on-site restrictions or even closure until those violations are addressed.

Q: Does the new state order override Portland’s stay-at-home order?


A: No. Cities and towns have the authority to enact more restrictive stay-at-home measures than the state, but they cannot have orders that are less restrictive. Some parts of Portland’s order that are more restrictive than the state’s, such as a temporary ban on short-term rentals, will remain in effect.

Q: Does the governor’s order stop people from coming to Maine from out of state?

A: Not yet. Mills has repeatedly said she does not have the authority to prevent people from coming to Maine, but on Tuesday she said she will insist that people coming to Maine from other states or Maine residents returning to the state – snowbirds who went south for the winter, for example – self-quarantine for 14 days. It is not clear how that would be enforced. Mills asked that people stay where they are and not come to Maine expecting to escape the virus.

Q: Will restaurants or bars be allowed to open for dine-in customers anytime in the near future?

A: No. The governor’s order extended the March 31 closure of restaurants and bars for dine-in customers until at least April 30.

Q: Can I still go to the office for work?


A: It depends. To qualify, you must work for an essential business such as food processing, construction, grocery and household goods, auto repair, pharmacy and medical facilities, behavioral health and health care providers, child care, post offices, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics, and animal feed and supply stores.

Q: How will the governor’s executive order be enforced?

A: Mills gave Maine police departments discretion, stating that her order would be enforced by police departments “as necessary.” Mills said violations are a Class E misdemeanors subject to up to six months in jail and $1,000 fines. She also said that it is her “hope that compliance will be voluntary and that formal enforcement will not be necessary.”

Q: Can I take my laundry to the laundromat or dry cleaner?

A: Yes. Laundromats and dry cleaners are deemed essential services, but customers need to maintain 6 feet of space.

Q: Can I travel to an educational institution to pick up meals or instructional materials for distance learning?

A: Yes. The order considers travel for those purposes to be an essential personal activity.

Q: How long do we have to abide by the governor’s order?

A: At least until April 30, but the governor has the authority to amend, rescind or extend the order at any time.

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