Portland City Councilors, pictured here earlier this year in council chambers, has repealed the majority of the city’s emergency order to allow businesses to begin reopening in accordance with Gov. Janet Mills’ state reopening plan. File photo

PORTLAND — The City Council has repealed its coronavirus emergency order and issued a new directive aligned with the governor’s plan to reopen Maine’s economy.

In effect until June 1, the new order continues to ban restaurants and bars from reopening and prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people. It also retains the provision that dogs must be leashed on public streets and city land between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Councilors also retained a financial incentive for short-term rental owners to convert non-owner occupied units to long-term rentals and waived deadlines for permitting and project reviews.

“Everything else will be governed by the governor’s executive order,” said Danielle West-Chuhta, the city’s corporation counsel. “We will continue to watch as she issues additional executive orders for each of her phases of reopening.”

Councilor Spencer Thibodeau said repealing the city’s emergency order does not mean social distancing no longer applies and that people are encouraged to stay at least six feet away from others.

Steven Scharf, a resident of Cumberland Avenue, thanked the council for repealing most of the emergency order.

“We need to get the city back to work and get things going,” he said.

Councilors said they wouldn’t feel confident enough to align the city’s pandemic measures with the state’s plan without the hard work of staff and the willingness of the public to abide by the emergency orders.

“It is heartening to me even in this most difficult time, I recognize the fundamental good of the Portland I know and love,” said Councilor Justin Costa.

“We still have lots of unknowns, but as long as we remain calm, consistent and compassionate, we will get through this. That is what it means to be a community,” Councilor Tae Chong said.

The first phase of Gov. Janet Mills’ reopening plan requires the public to wear face masks or face coverings in public when social distancing is not possible. It allows the reopening of health care facilities; personal services like barbershops, hair salons and pet grooming; drive-in movie theaters; auto dealerships; and car washes. It also allows the public to attend drive-in religious services and resume hunting, fishing and golfing.

The second phase, set to take effect June 1, could allow gatherings of up to 50 people and the reopening of restaurants, fitness centers, nail salons, retail stores, limited lodging and campgrounds, day camps and coastal state parks. The third phase, set for July and August, could reopen hotels, campgrounds, summer camps and recreational vehicle parks; charter boat tours and excursions; bars and personal services such as spas, tattoo and piercing parlors and massage facilities.

The final phase would allow all businesses and activities to resume.

With each phase comes a set of regulations businesses and residents must follow. How the additional phases transpire is dependent on whether the state is experiencing a downward trend of coronavirus cases, if the hospitals have the capacity to treat patients and the state has a robust testing program.

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