On July 8, 2020, hot on the heels of extending the length of Maine's state-of-emergency and thus her own emergency powers, Governor Mills issued yet another executive order (1 FY 20/21) regarding the wearing of face masks in public. The original face mask order issued April 29, 2020 (49 FY 19/20) commanded all individuals to wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. 49 FY 19/20. The Governor then issued yet another order addressing face masks (among other things) on May 29, 2020 (55 FY 19/20). Section I, Paragraph H of that order directed that “each place of business accessible to the public” shall post signage informing customers of the requirement to wear “cloth face coverings.” The order further authorize businesses to “deny entry or service to a person who is not wearing a covering and is not otherwise exempt from the requirement to do so.” 55 FY 19/20.
Now comes 2 FY 20/21, which goes farther than merely allowing businesses to deny service, and actually commands that certain businesses shall “implement measures requiring customers to wear face coverings” including but not limited to “denial of entry or service.” What is the difference between this order and the previous one (other than slightly more assertive language) you might ask? Well you see, this order also specifies that it “may also be enforced by any governmental department or official that regulates licenses, permits or otherwise authorizes the operation or occupancy of eating establishments, bars or tasting rooms, lodging operations and accommodations, businesses, buildings, parks and campgrounds.” In other words, the Governor is telling private enterprises that if they do not enforce her orders, then the State will seize their licenses to operate, take away the livelihoods of owners as well as employees, and expose them to criminal liability. 2 FY 20/21
Next time employees at a store, restaurant, or brewery ask you to put a mask on, be nice to them (even if you decide to leave), because there is a gun to their heads.
However, this really does not change the requirements placed upon individual Mainers. We have all been living with the mask rule for a couple of months and some change at this point. The only thing that has changed is apparently the Mills administration has admitted it cannot force individual Mainers to do anything, particularly when Police departments around the state have expressed their unwillingness to arrest or ticket people for failing to maintain social distancing or wear a mask. Unlike in New York City, where if you do not wear a mask an officer will literally punch you in the face. Instead, the Governor has realized that her best (and only) enforcement tool is to use bureaucrats to destroy businesses, like she did with Rick Savage and Sunday River Brewing Company.
It is certainly an interesting move in my opinion, to use power in a way that inadvertently showcases the lack of such.