Gov. Janet Mills issued a new mask mandate for Mainers as cases of COVID-19 continued to surge on Thursday.

The governor’s executive order replaces one that has been in place since July. Here’s what the new directive means.

What’s different about this? Do I have to wear a mask everywhere?

The new mask mandate is more comprehensive, and most places that you go outside of your own home and yard you will be expected to wear a mask – even if you can physically distance from other people.

Do masks work?

Scientific research since this spring is firmly on the side of wearing masks to contain the respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. Masks help prevent the droplets that are expelled when someone coughs or sneezes from getting into the air and being breathed in by people around them. There’s also some research indicating that wearing masks reduces the severity of COVID-19 if the wearer becomes infected.

Do I have to wear a mask indoors?

In pretty much any public space you enter outside of your home, masks will be required indoors. The virus spreads much more easily in indoor settings. Small businesses are now expected to post signs reminding customers to wear a mask in their spaces.

Do I have to wear a mask outdoors?

In most places other than your own yard, yes. The executive order doesn’t specify every possible setting, but on sidewalks and in parking lots, playgrounds and other public places, you are expected to wear a mask. It does not spell out whether you need to wear a mask in more secluded public spaces, such as when walking in the woods or jogging on a rural road, but the idea is to wear a mask as much as possible.

What about if I’m waiting for the bus?

Waiting for public transportation, or taking transportation, whether it’s on a train, bus, taxi, Uber or Lyft, will require a mask.

Will I get a ticket if I don’t comply?

Compliance is expected to be voluntary, and there won’t be police on the streets handing out tickets to people not wearing masks. But those who refuse to wear masks when entering retail establishments could be denied service or charged with trespassing. And businesses that fail to enforce the rules could have actions taken against their operating licenses or be fined.

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