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Business and Economy

Republicans Want To Exempt Massachusetts And Rhode Island From Quarantine Rules

Rebecca Conley
Maine Public file
Signs remind visitors to stay distant at Old Orchard Beach in May.

Republican leaders in Augusta today called for an easing of restrictions on out-of-state visitors from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and other changes they say are needed to salvage what’s left of the summer tourism season. But Democratic Gov. Janet Mills quickly blasted the proposal.

Republican legislative leaders, along with several representatives of Maine’s tourism industry, held a press conference outside of the state capitol to request that the state no longer require tourists from Massachusetts and Rhode Island to either quarantine, or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, as a condition of coming to Maine. Historically, visitors from Massachusetts have been a big part of the state’s summer tourism season.

“Folks from Massachusetts need to come up here because they are day trippers and they spend a lot of money. We need to welcome them back to Maine,” says Jeff Timberlake of Turner, the assistant Senate Republican floor leader.

The group also called for an increase in the minimum size of gatherings from 50 to 150.

Mills released a statement rejecting the proposal, saying she cannot understand “why Republicans care more about Massachusetts money than the life of a Maine person.” Maine’s positivity rate for COVID-19 is among the lowest in the country, and Mills says that she is not going to jeopardize public health, or put the state’s economy more at risk.

Originally published at 2:34 p.m. July 27, 2020.