A Metro driver waves while waiting at an intersection in Portland on April 27. The bus line, which is Maine’s largest transit company, said its drivers aren’t asking passengers the purpose of their trips because it would be impractical and unfair. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The state has removed online guidance that out-of-state visitors should receive a negative COVID-19 test before using public transportation, taking the step a day after the Portland Press Herald reported that transit operators were surprised and confused by the state’s new directive.

The directive appeared on Maine’s COVID-19 frequently asked questions page that provides details about Gov. Janet Mills’ executive orders. The reversal came a day after the Portland Press Herald reported that transit operators were caught off guard by the state’s new directive.

It said that visitors should “be able to demonstrate that they pose a minimal risk of exposure by having tested negative with a sample collected within 72 hours” before using public transit, including island ferries. The prohibition affected travelers using transit to get to a location where they intended to spend a 14-day mandatory quarantine, which could have disadvantaged seasonal residents trying to access their island homes.

The guidance was added Monday, the same day Gov. Mills announced tourists could visit Maine without quarantine starting next month, as long as they could attest to a recent negative COVID-19 test.

But the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention pulled the guidance down Thursday, after questions were raised about how it would be applied by transit agencies.

“Maine CDC has removed the item about using public transportation to travel to quarantine in Maine from its COVID-19 FAQ and is working to update the guidance within the coming days in order to provide more clarity for Maine travelers,” spokesman Robert Long said.

Long did not respond when asked why the information was removed and how the information was posted in the first place.

Transit agencies seemed to have just heard about the directive on Wednesday and were unclear how to apply it.

The Maine Department of Transportation, which operates the state’s ferry service to six coastal islands, said Wednesday it was seeking clarification and did not check identification of passengers to find out where they lived. Casco Bay Lines, which runs ferries to islands offshore Portland said Wednesday it was looking into the requirement and didn’t have any more information.

Casco Bay Lines did not respond to a request for an interview Thursday evening about the Maine CDC removing the directive. Transportation department spokesman Paul Merrill referred to Long’s statement.

Under Mills’ executive orders, public transit should only be used for essential purposes. But Greater Portland Metro, the state’s largest transit company said its drivers are not asking passengers the purpose of their trips because it would be impractical and unfair to do so.

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