Maine is moving to “Phase 4” of reopening during the coronavirus pandemic. What does that mean?

Mostly, the changes will involve restaurants, bars and tasting rooms. Bars, which had remained shuttered, will now be allowed to reopen with restrictions. All establishments, whether they are bars or restaurants or any place indoors where people are primarily sitting, such as a church or a theater, are limited to 50 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.

Bars and tasting rooms can reopen Nov. 2, while restaurants can have more people inside starting Oct. 13.

How will bars be different?

Bars will be expected to enforce rules that will make the bar experience more like going to a restaurant. So, no mixing with large crowds of people you don’t know. Customers are expected to sit at their own table – maximum of eight people – and only get up to use the restroom or entering and leaving the bar or restaurant. When not seated, customers will be expected to wear masks.

Employees will be required to wear masks at all times.

What about other indoor places like gyms?

Gyms still must abide by the rule of no more than 50 people, because heavy exertions, such as exercising and singing, have been linked to the increased likelihood of spreading COVID-19 via airborne transmission.

Any other changes?

Businesses were expected to enforce mask wearing only in Maine’s more populous cities and along the coast, but now they will be expected to enforce masks inside throughout the state. Wearing masks has been shown by research to be one of the most effective ways to stop transmission of COVID-19.

The state has also extended the mask-wearing requirement to other locations, such as private schools and municipal buildings.

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