Maine Governor Janet Mills has been criticized after she was seen at an ice cream parlor without a mask – flouting her own pandemic orders that all residents must wear face masks in public or face a $1,000 fine.
Mills, who has served as Maine’s governor since 2019, was reportedly spotted with a young woman at Stonington Ice Cream Company in the small town of Stonington.
The photo taken on Saturday shows Mills and the young woman smiling while neither of them wear mandated face masks.
Word quickly spread of Mills’ photo, prompting her critics to label her a hypocrite and blasting her over her coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
Ice cream shop owner Ron Watson initially shared the photo on Facebook, but later removed it as a political frenzy began.
‘There was no point in having it up,’ he told Bangor Daily News.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills (left) was photographed at an ice cream shop in Stonington, Maine, without a mandated face mask
Rep. Genevieve McDonald, who was reportedly with Mills earlier that day, said the governor sometimes removes her mask for photos.
Maine has the eighth-fewest cases per capita in the US under Mills’ leadership, with just 2,971 confirmed cases and 102 deaths.
Maine’s numbers are substantially dwarfed when compared to epicenter New York, which recorded more than 390,000 cases and nearly 25,000 deaths.
The United States reported 2,382,702 cases nationwide and a death toll of 122,020.
But conservatives have fought Mills throughout the pandemic, with protesters organizing anti-lockdown demonstrations and filing lawsuits over businesses restrictions.
Pictured: Protesters rally against the executive orders by Maine Gov. Janet Mills keep some of Maine businesses closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus
President Donald Trump called Mills a ‘dictator’ for not reopening the state fast enough.
Earlier this month, Mills allowed Maine to enter Phase 2 of their reopening plan. The state may enter Phase 3 in early July.
Part of Mills’ pandemic response has been ordering residents to wear face masks or coverings any time they’re out in public.
Failure to follow state orders can result in jail time and a hefty fine.
‘A violation of the Governor’s Executive Order on face coverings is by statute punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000,’ Lindsay Crete, spokesperson for the governor’s office, said in a statement.
Maine health officials have lauded residents for wearing face masks in public and following health guidelines, but several businesses are reportedly torn over whether to enforce the rule.
Face masks have become increasingly political, as President Trump and Vice President Pence have both appeared in public without face coverings.
An Associated Press-NORC poll in May found that Democrats were more likely to wear face masks.
Mills’ apparent mishap was further exacerbated when the photo was shared by Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Adrienne Bennett on Tuesday.
Bennett captioned the photo: ‘Rules for thee, not for me.’
Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Adrienne Bennett used the photo in a political attack against Mills on Tuesday
Bennett: ‘If you or I went to Stonington Ice Cream Company without a mask, Governor Janet Mills would charge us with a Class E crime, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine’
‘NO MASK FOR MILLS? If you or I went to Stonington Ice Cream Company without a mask, Governor Janet Mills would charge us with a Class E crime, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine,’ wrote Bennett.
‘But it is ok for Mills to go mask-less? It’s time to end the double standards and political control. Either lift the order, or Mills should hold herself to the same standard she has been threatening Mainers with.
‘Do you think Mills will pay the fine or do the time? If Mills won’t follow her own order, why should we?’
Some Mainers held protests to fight lockdown orders imposed by Mills earlier this year (pictured)
Rep. McDonald appeared to lash out at critics by noting that the young woman pictured is a young, underage relative who was dragged into political tit-for-tat.
‘This positive moment for her was used as a political implement,’ McDonald said.
‘Having your picture taken with the governor is exciting. To have it splashed across Facebook as a tool of hatred was disappointing.’
DailyMail.com reached out to Mills’ office for further comment.
Mills has not publicly responded to the outcries, but instead has continued to put focus on safely reopening the state.
In a series of tweets, she urged residents to ‘remain vigilant.’
‘These reopenings represent a positive step forward for Maine and our economy, but Maine people and businesses must remain vigilant,’ she wrote.
‘The increasing, and in some instances record high, number of COVID-19 cases in other states are cautionary tales for Maine as we continue our reopening, monitor the prevalence of the virus here, and look towards our economic recovery.
Mills urged Mainers to continue to practice public health guidelines during the pandemic in a series of tweets
Maine has recorded 2,971 confirmed coronavirus cases and 102 deaths
Maine is currently in Phase 2 of reopening, but may enter Phase 3 in early July
‘Nothing would be more devastating to our economy than a significant surge in the virus that sickens and kills more people and jeopardizes our health care capacity.
‘By taking good care of ourselves and others, we can continue to reopen safely.’
In other parts of the country, states that are already underway with reopening plans have recorded concerning coronavirus spikes in recent weeks.
Twenty three percent of counties across the United States are now seeing an uncontrollable growth in new COVID-19 infections, according to a data map.
States like Arizona, Texas, California and Florida have recorded particularly troubling spikes in hospitalizations and cases.
A color-coded data map, compiled by spatial analytics company Esri, shows that 23 percent of counties across the US are now seeing an uncontrollable growth in new COVID-19 infections