TREMONT — Concerned that visitors and seasonal residents are flocking to Mount Desert Island to escape highly-populated areas where COVID-19 is more rampant, selectmen are opting to post signs at the town lines.
Banners stating, “If you are coming into Tremont from out of state, please quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” were slated to go up this week.
Public works crew members were scheduled to begin constructing the framework on Wednesday to hold the signs that will be posted where three town lines are located. These include Pretty Marsh/Seal Cove, Marsh Bridge at the Southwest Harbor/Tremont town line and Seawall/Harbor Drive. One more will be posted next to or on the sign at the Town Office.
Representative Genevieve McDonald and Tremont Public Health Officer Rosie Madeira attended the April 3 meeting of the Board of Selectmen via Zoom. In that meeting, Chairman Jamie Thurlow indicated he thought an executive order had been established by Governor Janet Mills to require people traveling from out of state to quarantine for two weeks.
“I think, somehow, that needs to happen sooner rather than later,” said Thurlow after McDonald explained it was not an executive order but a recommendation.
Three out of five of the members of the Board of Selectmen are involved with seasonal rental properties. Each agreed during the meeting that the summer season has started early this year, to some degree.
“I caretake probably 150 to 180 properties here on the island,” said Mike Mansolilli who owns MDI Property Maintenance and Management. “Seal Harbor and Northeast Harbor look as busy as the 4th of July here.”
“We’re seeing the same thing here on Deer Isle,” said McDonald, explaining how it is important not to make anyone feel unwelcome, but to focus more on the limited resources available.
She continued to reference the island of North Haven whose officials recently attempted to ban people from coming to that island during this pandemic.
“They did run into a legal challenge and were told they needed to rescind their order,” said McDonald.
In addition to ordering signs asking people traveling to Tremont to quarantine, selectmen also asked Town Manager Chris Saunders to reach out to Maine’s Department of Transportation and Bar Harbor to see if a digital sign could be posted at the head of the island with the same wording.
According to Saunders, DOT officials said they already have a sign posted at the airport in Trenton and signs on the Maine Turnpike addressing the subject.
Madeira and the selectmen agreed that an increase in delivery or curbside service from area businesses could help people more successfully quarantine.
Although Mansolilli’s company focuses on property work, he told the group his company is offering delivery of goods to clients so they can shelter in place.
“It’s going to be tough for our small communities to handle any sort of volume beyond people that live here,” he said about the possible spread of COVID-19.