The Portland City Council has formally repealed its stay-at-home order, but residents and business will still be subject to similar state restrictions.

Maine’s largest city maintained its own order for weeks and was at times more strict than the state in its pandemic response. In recent weeks, the City Council began to eliminate some of those differences.

City Hall in Portland has signs saying it is closed to external visitors. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

When Gov. Janet Mills announced that some businesses would be allowed to reopen last week, Portland officials said they would lift their own order and align with her plan for the coming months. If they had kept the city restrictions, local barber shops, car dealerships and other businesses would not have been allowed to open as they did in other towns and cities on Friday.

“These days are quick pivots,” Mayor Kate Snyder said Monday evening before the council voted unanimously to repeal the local order.

The vote did preserve some specific emergency measures from the last few weeks. Temporary leash restrictions for dogs still stand. An incentive program for property owners who convert vacation rentals into low-income housing also remains in place.

The governor’s order still prohibits social gatherings of more than 10 people and requires out-of-state visitors to quarantine for 14 days. Many businesses are still closed to the public. And Mainers are now required to wear face coverings in public spaces where physical distancing is not an option.

“We, of course, continue to watch as she continues to issue different executive orders,” Corporation Counsel Danielle West-Chuhta said.

Monday’s vote drew little public comment or discussion. The councilors spoke mostly to thank the mayor and senior staff members for their work in recent weeks. They credited Snyder for communicating frequently with them and responding quickly to changes.

“It has been really wonderful during this entire process to have a mayor who I trust,” Councilor Belinda Ray said.

They also said residents have generally followed local and state rules in a confusing and stressful time.

“I’ll say thank you to the members of the public who, by and large, I think have been very respectful and understanding throughout these unprecedented times,” Councilor Justin Costa said.

The councilors also voted on its allocation of Community Development Block Grants and other federal grants. That process happens annually and was not driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Portland received more than $1.6 million in additional federal grants through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The councilors will discuss staff recommendations for those grants and hear public comment at their meeting May 18.

The councilors also approved three new programs through the Portland Development Corporation for loans or grants for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Those initiatives will be funded by unrestricted loan funds from the Portland Development Corporation, as well as federal CDBG funding.

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