Maine: More Can Attend Weddings Soon; Scramble On For Shots

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine is set to relax attendance restrictions for private events such as weddings and private parties next month.

Indoor events have been limited to 50% of permitted occupancy or 50 people, whichever is greater, since late March. The Maine Department of Economic & Community Development said earlier this week that the restrictions will rise to 75% of permitted occupancy or 50 people, whichever is greater, on May 24.

The restrictions on outdoor events will rise from 75% to 100% of permitted occupancy on May 24.

The restrictions are designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the state, state officials said.

“Group social gatherings such as weddings, celebrations, and similar private events with invited attendees bring people from multiple communities into close contact with each other and have the potential to increase COVID-19 transmission,” the economic development department said in a statement.

In other pandemic-related news:

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THE NUMBERS

The number of infections is creeping upward in Maine.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 197.29 on March 23 to 310.43 as of Tuesday. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 0.86 on March 23 to 0.57 on April 6.

The Maine CDC reported 319 infections and one death on Thursday. All told, there have been nearly 53,000 infections and 748 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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EXPANDED SHOTS

The expansion of vaccine eligibility this week sent people scrambling, setting their alarms at midnight and lying about their ages as the floodgates opened to everyone 16 and older.

More than 450,000 people became eligible with the change on Wednesday, and many didn't waste any time logging in for appointments, the Bangor Daily News reported.

One person told the newspaper that the website wasn't allowing her to register even though shots were now available for those under 50, so she lied to secure an appointment.

The logjam won't clear itself anytime soon. MaineHealth alone already had a wait list of 37,000 before the expansion.

Still, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the state is administering more than 15,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine every day. He said nearly a third of the state has received at least a first dose of a vaccine.

Shah credited the state's healthcare workers for being ready for the mass vaccination campaign. However, demand is still running ahead of supply, he said.

“This work comes on top of a very difficult and grueling year for healthcare providers, as we've seen,” Shah said.

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BALLOON FESTIVAL

The Great Falls Balloon Festival has been grounded for a second year by the pandemic.

A statement by organizers of the event in Lewiston-Auburn cited the number of visitors and the challenge of ensuring their safety.

“After much deliberation and consideration, we do not feel we can meet our mission goals, respect the current state mandates and reach our sponsorship goals to put on this event given the effects of COVID," the statement said.