The end of the mask tenure is one of many restrictions Mills will lift on May 24. That day, businesses will also be able to return to 100% capacity, with domestic businesses no longer required to apply social distancing. The policy’s announcement came just a day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued similar guidelines for fully vaccinated people.
The end of the restrictions was a welcome sign that could bring a return to normalcy for his business, said Bangor Mall Cinemas general manager Scott Warren, 56, of Bangor.
This came as the theater, which spent some periods of the pandemic shutting down, began to see increased ticket sales with higher vaccination rates and the present or future theatrical release of several films expected. , including Spiral and A Quiet Place Part II.
“With these restrictions lifted – they certainly can’t do anything other than help us,” Warren said.
Theaters in Maine are currently subject to significant capacity limits and social distancing restrictions. Theater goers are also required to wear masks, except when eating and drinking.
It was not clear how many restrictions were lifted for parts of Thursday and Friday, with Mills telling a press conference on Thursday that the indoor mask requirement would remain while state officials consider new federal guidelines.
Warren saw the confusion of conflicting announcements firsthand: He said a man came to the theater without a mask on Thursday afternoon, saying he believed the U.S. CDC’s announcement allowed him to do so. He politely put on a mask after staff asked him to, Warren said.
With the latest guidance from the state and the US CDC, Bangor city officials will also begin to consider how they will operate in the coming days, City Manager Cathy Conlow said. Conlow was interviewed hours before Mills announced her new guidelines on Friday afternoon.
Members of the public have only been able to attend and watch the Bangor City Council and Bangor School Committee meetings from a distance since the pandemic hit Maine in March 2020.
Conlow said many counselors and school committee members have already started meeting in person for meetings, albeit with masks on. The entire school committee attended a meeting on April 27 to approve the selection of Bangor’s new superintendent, James Tager.
Some aspects of remote participation will continue, Conlow said. She said resident engagement in remote meetings has gradually increased since the meetings were first moved away and was apparently higher than ever.
“I think it has been proven during the pandemic period to be a very valuable tool for public participation,” said Conlow.
However, not all public institutions will see changes: Federal requirements still require visitors to Bangor International Airport to wear face masks at the airport, airport spokesman Aimee Thibodeau said. These rules also apply to the Bangor Community Connector bus system.
At Bangor Hollywood Casino, which has seen an increase in revenue in recent months, announcements from Mills and the US CDC indicated that the casino may soon “bring back more of our equipment,” CEO Austin Muchemore said. The casino had 342 slot machines and seven tables open on Tuesday, a fraction of the 724 machines and 18 tables offered in April 2019.
“We will be working over the next few days to determine the best next steps also taking into account staffing, guest comfort and security,” Muchemore said.
Shoppers at Bangor Mall and surrounding stores continued to wear masks indoors on Friday, with many also wearing fabric face covers outside.
Mills’ policy made sense for 18-year-old Jenna McGrath, who is fully vaccinated. She noted that officials had long promised to lift restrictions after more people got vaccinated. States that had lifted mask warrants had also not seen spikes in cases, McGrath said.
However, 23-year-old Reilley Hicks said the U.S. CDC’s guidelines may have been released too early because many Americans have yet to be vaccinated. Although she is fully vaccinated, she plans to continue wearing a mask indoors until more Americans get vaccinated.
“They don’t know I’m vaccinated,” Hicks said. “I don’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable. “
Forty-seven percent of Americans had received at least one vaccine by Friday, including children 11 and under who are not currently eligible for any of the available vaccines. Maine is ahead of the national average, with about 49.5 percent of the population having received at least one dose.