April 2, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I wanted to take some time in this week’s email to break down Gov. Mills’ new “Stay Healthy at Home” order, a statewide mandate taking effect today, April 2. Please read this email in its entirety for details on what the order means for you.
Until May 1, everyone in Maine is required to stay at home at all times unless for an essential job or an essential personal reason.
Those reasons include: grocery shopping, obtaining medical care or medication, providing care to another person, caring for livestock, engaging in outdoor exercise or walking a pet (while observing the appropriate social distancing measures), travels related to child care, or commuting to and from work for an essential job. You can still visit essential businesses that provide you necessary supplies and are open with curbside pick-up, such as restaurants or laundromats. There is also a provision that allows people who work at non-essential businesses to travel to and from their jobs to perform non-public-facing work or to deliver goods.
To keep people at home, the order also mandates the continued termination of classroom or other in-person instruction until at least May 1, and it prohibits the use of public transportation unless for an essential reason or job that cannot be done from home.
Mainers are also now prohibited from traveling in vehicles with anyone outside their immediate household. And you must stay six feet apart from people outside your immediate household.
Finally, the order puts additional restrictions on the essential businesses that are staying open. Namely, the Governor has outlined exactly how many people can be in spaces of a certain size. She is also requiring that grocery stores disinfect the handles of every cart and basket between uses, minimize customer handling of unpurchased merchandise and offer separate operating hours for Maine people over the age of 60 and those with underlying medical conditions.
While the Governor hopes formal enforcement of these mandates will not be necessary, violations are subject to up to six months in jail and $1,000 fines.
The Governor’s full press release and executive order can be found at this link.
I also wanted to briefly touch on what you can expect from the new COVID-19 stimulus package signed by the President last week. Based on your 2018 income, adults could receive a direct payment of up to $1,200 each, $2,400 for couples, and an additional $500 for children 17 and under.
Unemployment benefits have also been temporarily enhanced. The changes increase the maximum unemployment benefit, extend the length of benefits and expand who is eligible. The Maine Department of Labor is working to implement those changes as we speak. The package also includes support for K-12 and higher education in addition to previously approved support for MaineCare through an enhanced federal match.
The stimulus package will also be providing funds to the State of Maine to use specifically for our response to COVID-19.
A comprehensive overview of the federal package can be found here.
I know that each week these emails I send you bring news of more and more changes to our lives. Change is hard, especially when caused by a threat to our public health. But I want to remind you all of one thing: Mainers have a spirit that can get us through anything. We’re resourceful, we’re caring and we’re strong. That will never change.
Serving District 135
Deadlines to file and pay both State and Federal taxes have been extended to July 15, 2020.
Mainers Helping Mainers
Here in Maine, we care deeply about our neighbors. Last week, Gov. Mills launched Maine Helps, a website that outlines ways Maine people can help their communities and our state. Take a look to see how you can lend a hand. And if you’re a willing and able health care worker in Maine, whether retired or not, register for Maine Responds, an initiative gathering volunteer resources to assist our health care system during the COVID-19 crisis.
Frequently Used Resources
Here are some resources that address a few of the concerns I’m hearing most:
The website for small businesses to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the US Small Business Administration.
A compilation of resources created by Maine Equal Justice for folks with concerns about health care, food security, evictions, court proceedings and other issues during this time.
Guidance for municipalities regarding the Legislature’s approval of measures to increase flexibility.
Detailed information on the FAME COVID-19 Consumer Loan Guarantee Program offering low-or-no interest loans to qualifying applicants.
An online application for businesses that believe they should be classified as essential under Gov. Mills March 24 Executive Order.
A resource to get answers any time by dialing 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), texting your ZIP code to 898-211 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right here in our community, there are some great resources to take advantage of:
- Project Open, a working spreadsheet of local business services and hours from the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce
- MDI Helpers: Pandemic Mutual Aid, Facebook support group
- It Takes an Island, MDI area Facebook support group
Local municipal updates