PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Maine Governor Janet Mills is not loosening travel restrictions for Rhode Island because she says the Ocean State doesn’t meet the safety criteria on rates of infection.
Starting Friday, Mills says travelers from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are among the states that do not need to test negative or self-quarantine if visiting Maine.
But anyone coming from Rhode Island and Massachusetts will have to prove they tested negative for COVID-19 or self-quarantine in Maine if traveling there.
“Rhode Island and Massachusetts unfortunately still aren’t in the category of as safe as Maine,” Mills said Wednesday.
A national report recently showed Rhode Island was one of the only states with declining COVID-19 cases. Despite that, Maine’s CDC Director Nirav Shah said Rhode Islanders pose an added risk to Maine residents.
“[Rhode Island’s] positive rate is a hair above 2 percent but their weekly cases per million are close to 300, whereas that in Maine is closer to 200 right now,” Shah explained.
A recent survey conducted by AAA Northeast found nearly 48 percent of Rhode Islanders do not plan to travel this Fourth of July weekend. But of the 37 percent who are traveling, roughly 90 percent said they will be driving to their destination.
Michael DeGrandpre grew up in Maine and moved to Rhode Island in 2014. He has plans to drive to Maine to visit family.
“We work so hard down here in Rhode Island,” DeGrandpre said. “We are not looking forward to being excluded from the rest of the part in Maine this time.”
When asked about Maine’s decision, the Rhode Island Department of Health said each state decides how to best protect the health and safety of their residents.
Later on Thursday, a spokesperson for the governor’s office released a statement saying Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott has “spoken with her counterpart in Maine regarding this policy.”
“It is our understanding that Maine will be reviewing the data and updating their list early next week,” the spokesperson continued.
The restrictions also impact anyone coming from Maine to Rhode Island this weekend. They will have to test negative for COVID-19 or self-quarantine once they return to Maine.