The city of Augusta has issued an order today (March 26) which expanded business restrictions that were put in place last week, but the city stopped short of issuing a shelter in place order for residents.

The order runs until the time of the next City Council meeting, scheduled for tomorrow (March 27), and at time Bridgeo said the council has the power to extend, modify or terminate it.

According to the order issued by City Manager Bill Bridgeo, Augusta is still under a state of civil emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the restrictions follow the ones put in place by Gov. Janet Mills on March 15. This includes all businesses "that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services" being required to close their physical workspaces "o workers, customers, and the public."

There are some exceptions to the closing order:

Businesses that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-­and-mortar premises closed pursuant to this proclamation. With that said, such non-essential businesses may continue to access their brick-and-mortar premises in order to conduct essential business functions including, but not limited to, cleaning, processing mail, depositing checks, obtaining necessary business supplies, completing payroll and paying vendors; as long as social distancing requirements are being implemented, and the fewest number of employees possible are on premises when conducting such services.

Restaurants will still be open, but for take out and delivery only. "Such businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is still temporarily prohibited."

There are no travel restrictions in the order, but gatherings in public spaces are discouraged.

All travel including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, golf cart, automobile, or public transit, for COVID-19 Essential Services is permitted. Outdoor exercise and/or dog walking is also specifically permitted. All individuals are discouraged from congregating on City playgrounds, and it is recommend that all individuals should seek, to the maximum extent possible, to be at least six ( 6) feet from any other person with whom they do not share a household when engaged in any travel or exercise activities on City streets, trails, grounds, fields, tennis or basketball courts or other outdoor areas.

The order also allows for fines for any violations. "Violation of or failure to comply with any requirement of this Order is punishable by a fine of $500.00 per occurrence plus the costs of prosecution."

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