BAR HARBOR — On Friday, both the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and another group of local business owners wrote to Governor Janet Mills in support of a proposal to dedicate $800 million of federal CARES Act funding in grants and loans for hospitality, tourism and retail businesses.
The Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Recovery Plan, proposed by statewide industry groups including Hospitality Maine and the Maine Retail Association, is for $725 million in emergency action grants, the bulk of which would go to businesses with 50 or fewer employees. A second phase, $25 million, would be used by the Maine Office of Tourism for marketing, employee support and low-interest loans for workforce development.
“Our Payroll Protection Program loans were designed to get us through June and the extra unemployment funding our employees have been receiving will disappear a month later,” wrote Tim Rich, owner of The Independent Café, on behalf of his own business and 12 other Bar Harbor businesses. “There isn’t much time left to keep an awful situation from getting worse.
Businesses are reopening, he wrote, but sales are dramatically down. The business owners have worked hard to implement safety protocols, taking responsibility for the safety of employees and customers, and are proud of that work.
The letter from Rich and other business owners also asked the Governor to end the 14-day quarantine requirement and “adopt visitor requirements similar to the other states in New England.”
The chamber shares that position, but not all its members do.
“It’s my belief that more businesses can survive one tourist season with some creativity than those that could survive doing it again next year, which could easily be the case if we encourage people from hot spots to travel without taking precautions such as the 14–day quarantine,” Amanda Farley Gallant, one of the owners of the Dog & Pony Tavern, wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday.
“I don’t want to tell my employees that we have to close again or that we may never open again. I feel for those who have already had to do that. I don’t want to have to tell the kids that because we were reckless this summer that they may spend a whole school year at home … and don’t know when they can return to normalcy. Maine needs help, but I don’t think getting rid of the 14–day quarantine is the answer.”