Police and CEOs receive complaints

MOUNT DESERTAccording to Police Chief Jim Willis, there has been only one incident where vacationers from out of state were sent packing because they were in violation of the Governor’s executive order to quarantine for 14 days when coming to Maine.  

“We’ve had complaints really since the beginning, back in March,” he added when asked if the police department had heard from people about possible violations. “Our first reaction to most complaints is to educate people in what we’re looking for.”   

Officers of the Southwest Harbor Police Department approach any complaints, about lack of social distancing, violations of the Governor’s orders regarding rentals and people not wearing a mask, the same way.  

“We have received a few complaints, not a lot, no,” said Lieutenant Michael Miller. “Our policy is to educate. If someone is not social distancing or wearing a mask, we try to talk with them.” 

A restaurant was the focus of one complaint prior to it being open for seating. Miller said the caller was concerned about a bar in town where they thought people were congregating and eating inside. When an officer visited the location, the owners of the business were in compliance by only offering curbside service. 

“The only [complaints] I’ve received have been people violating the rental,” said Jesse Dunbar, who serves as Tremont’s CEO and the deputy CEO in Southwest Harbor. “It is the same in Southwest Harbor. People complaining their neighbor who has a rental is checking people in left and right.” 

“The only option we have right now is to direct them to law enforcement,” he added in a conversation with the Islander earlier this month. “When they see out-of-state plates, they know they are not supposed to be there because it’s all rentals.” 

Willis says public shaming on social media does more policing than his department has had to do.  

“I think there’s a tremendous amount of social media chatter,” he said. “Those don’t always turn into police complaints.” 

Earlier this month, restrictions for visitors from Vermont and New Hampshire were lifted entirely, while those for visitors from other states have been outlined in a “Keep Maine Healthy” plan that will be effective July 1. That plan allows visitors to sign and submit a letter or compliance to their lodging facility that they have received a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours in place of a 14-day quarantine.  

“The biggest volume we have is people calling us, asking us how to do things the right way,” said Willis. 


Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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