Editorial: A Maine vacation — for Mainers 

On Friday, we entered month two of the state’s stay-at-home order and phase one of the Governor’s gradual plan for reopening the economy. We applaud Janet Mills’ and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah’s commitment to using the best available science and epidemiological data to combat the spread of COVID-19. But we also commiserate with the thousands of business owners left reeling by these reentry plans. 

Some, including hairdressers, are struggling to figure out how they can safely do their jobs, maintain a sense of normalcy for customers and make enough money for it to be worth reopening their doors this month. Many business owners are frustrated that their “unessential” businesses remain shuttered while large chains that sell similar products are open. Those in the hospitality industry are facing potential catastrophe this summer if out-of-state visitors must abide by a 14-day quarantine. The average visit to Acadia is three to four days, according to the National Park Service. No one is going to quarantine for two weeks just to take a long weekend.  

While it doesn’t trump public health, the threat to the livelihoods of small business owners and employees as well as to local and state budgets is very real. Hotel and restaurant owners say they are prepared to take extensive precautions to protect guests and staff. The small businesses of Bar Harbor, and the state of Maine, deserve the chance to provide a safe visitor experience that will give us the opportunity to survive,” says Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Director Alf Anderson. An abundance of caution on the public health front must also take into consideration what will be left when this is all over. 

Fortunately, the plan is not final. Restrictions could be tightened or loosened based on the number of COVID-19 cases in Maine and the availability of more widespread testing. The summer season is not lost  yet. However, it will almost certainly be curtailed even if the quarantine requirement is lifted.  

So, we propose that Mainers who have been cooped up indoors or hard at work at essential jobs start planning a summer escape close to home. If ever there was a summer to appreciate living in Maine, this is it. We have thus far escaped the large outbreaks seen in other parts of the country and world. Residents and businesses have worked hard to support each other from sewing masks to dishing out free lunch. When the stay-at-home order lifts and as more businesses begin to reopen, they will need community backing to rebound and survive. Vibrant downtowns, family-owned restaurants and independent shops create jobs and improve quality of life. If we don’t support them now, they won’t be around tomorrow.  

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