As of now, bars in the Pine Tree State are expected to reopen on July 1, according to local news station WCSH. But on Wednesday, Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned that officials are now reevaluating that timeline after other states have reported bar-linked outbreaks of the novel virus.
"As always, we let the data, not the date, drive what we feel is best in order to protect public health and we will do so here in connection with bars," Shah said during a daily news briefing, according to the news station.
Bars “almost by definition are the opposite of physical distancing,” he added, voicing concerns that face coverings may not be uniformly worn because they interfere with drinking.
What’s more, Shah also expressed worry that people “speaking loudly” while at bars could aid the spread of the virus. (Droplets from the mouths of people who are talking loudly can linger in the air for up to 14 minutes before disappearing, a recent study concluded.)
The news comes after at least 16 people who spent a night out at a Florida bar later tested positive for the coronavirus. At least seven employees were also infected, according to reports.
Additionally, Idaho officials announced earlier this month that they are investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases linked to bars in downtown Boise.
Such reports have also prompted officials in Vermont and Massachusetts to reevaluate the timeline for when bars can reopen in their respective states, according to WCSH.