COVID-19 Prevention Checklists
Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: May 14, 2020

1. Are all Maine businesses required to comply with “Checklists” in order to open?

Yes. Businesses included in the plan to Restart Maine’s Economy must commit to complying with a “Checklist” for their sector posted on the Department of Economic Development (DECD) website to open. These COVID-19 Prevention Checklists provide specific, expert-informed practices in order to attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. Checklists are developed in a collaborative fashion with DECD, other Departments and government agencies, private sector groups, and public health experts. Businesses that were considered essential or that are engaged in essential activities, like grocery stores and child care centers, under previous Executive Orders were not directed to close and thus do not need to follow a Checklist to reopen.

2. Do businesses have to post a badge in order to open?

No. The badge is a tool that businesses may use to instill confidence in consumers that the business has adopted appropriate safety practices.

3. Who is creating the Checklist guidance?

The Checklists are drafted by staff at the State of Maine and clinical and public health experts affiliated with the University of Southern Maine in close collaboration with the affected economic sector. They may be updated periodically based on input and changing public health advice.

4. Do health care facilities and providers have to follow a Checklist?

The State of Maine is not producing Checklists for licensed health care facilities and providers but expects them to follow Federal guidance and best practices as recommended by professional associations. Unlike other businesses, promoting and protecting health is part of their mission. Health care providers generally have infection prevention and control policies in place and most stayed open to provide essential services during the state of civil emergency.  

5.What if my business is "essential" and there is no Checklist for our operations? Is there general guidance I can use to make sure we are keeping employees and customers safe?

Yes. General guidance for all businesses is posted on the Department of Economic Development (DECD) website.

6. Can a business develop its own plan to safely reopen and submit it for approval? 

The State of Maine is establishing such standards through Checklists after collaboration with public health experts and affected economic sectors or linking to standards developed by association experts. This also provides consumers with assurance that a business is following best practices. These guidelines are minimums: businesses are welcome to add safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, we welcome ideas from businesses on how they may be able to safely open and will take them into consideration.

7. Why not let all businesses that adopt the Checklist open safely now?

Safety with respect to COVID-19 is multi-dimensional. One of them is that a business or organization’s space and practices have been modified to ensure safety. This is why Maine has developed COVID-19 Prevention Checklists. Safe reopening also involves limiting the number of people interacting and leaving their homes. If all businesses opened at once, even with adoption of safety guidelines, the risk of COVID-19 spread would be multiple times higher than it is with gradual reopening. Having many people interact in the short-term could result in a large spike in cases that could overwhelm our health system.

8. Why allow rural businesses to reopen earlier?

Twelve largely rural counties in Maine have not experienced community transition. They have fewer residents and fewer cases than Cumberland, York, Penobscot, and Androscoggin Counties, where community transmission has been established. As such, reopening certain businesses earlier – with added health and safety precautions – is not expected to significantly increase the number of people leaving their homes, thus limiting the risk of a surge in COVID-19 that could overwhelm our health system.

9. How have decisions been made about what businesses and services should move forward when?

The Departments of Economic and Community Development and Health and Human Services have worked together with public health and clinical experts on which businesses can reopen in different stages. This work has been done in consultation with Maine businesses and consumers alike. Additionally, decisions have been informed by what is happening in other states, especially those in northern New England. Factors taken into consideration include the ability to modify a business to promote safety, to conduct business remotely, and to limit the amount of congregation and travel. Additional considerations include whether they are small businesses and the impact on Maine’s communities and economy.

10. What should a business do if a worker gets COVID-19?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance to businesses on May 6, which includes recommendations on what a business should do if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection. That guidance is here. Maine CDC also works with businesses with confirmed cases on contact tracing and best practices.

11. Can a person leave Maine before the end of the 14-day quarantine?

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. The COVID-19 quarantine requirement in Executive Order 34 FY 19/20 is designed to prevent people from out of state or Maine residents who left and returned to the State from spreading COVID-19 while asymptomatic. The 14 days begin on the day of arrival in Maine. While it does not require that people remain in Maine for all 14 days, quarantine is designed to restrict movement. People leaving the State must not break quarantine while travelling in Maine and should finish the 14-day quarantine in their home state to protect the public health.  This executive order and clarification apply for the month of May. Additional guidance on how quarantine policy relates to lodging is forthcoming.

12. Why are bars allowed to reopen in Stage 3 when restaurants are allowed to open in Stage 2 (and Stage 1 in twelve counties)?

Bars that do not serve food frequently lack tables or space that allow the establishment to maintain six feet distance between individuals and groups. That said, we expect to learn from the experience of restaurants and expect to post a Checklist in mid-June.