Gov. Janet Mills, the Maine Democrat, has been widely criticized for extending the state’s shelter-in-place order despite lower-than-expected coronavirus cases and the approach of the summer months, which are vital to the state’s economy.
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The Bangor Daily News interviewed a restaurant owner in the town of Machias who has been forced to close her dine-in service even though there have only been two known coronavirus cases in the area since March, and they have both recovered.
Julie Barker, the co-owner of Helen’s Restaurant, told the paper that the virtual shutdown has been brutal on business and her accounts are in the red.
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Mills announced a gradual reopening of the state and issued a new safer-at-home order that goes into effect on Thursday and extends to May 31. The phased opening appears to hit the hospitality industry the hardest and, according to the paper, will keep hotels and bars closed until about August.
Ray Richardson, the popular morning host of radio station WLOB, said the governor is basically telling businesses in the state to drop dead.
“She has implemented the most draconian measures in the country,” he told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show.” “We have been under a stay-at-home order since the beginning of April– which was supposed to expire tomorrow. She extended it yesterday to May 31.”
But many in the state said the rollout is simply not fast enough. The newspaper pointed out that many residents in the state fail to qualify for unemployment benefits because they are seasonal workers and independent contractors. These residents find Mills’ call to invent a “new normal” unacceptable and even started an online petition for her ouster.
Richardson said she essentially told the state of Maine that she does not trust its residents to take the proper precautions.
Residents in Maine seem to echo the calls of many Americans who say these shelter-in-place orders may be useful for large cities or areas that have an outbreak, but a blanket solution—even in states—is shortsighted and economically devastating.
“I lost all my revenue streams for the foreseeable future over the course of maybe three days,” Ella Mock, who holds several jobs in the state, said. “I didn’t realize it would happen so fast.”
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Maine has already canceled major summer festivals, including the Potato Blossom Festival and the Yarmouth Clam Festival, which take place in July. Health officials in the state insist that these stay-at-home orders are the reason the outbreak has been contained and a measured reopening is essential.
Jason Levesque, the mayor of Auburn, told the paper that he sent a letter to Mills urging her to lift the stay-at-home orders by May 5.
“When I’m talking to folks via phone, or email, or at a socially respectable distance, a lot of them are saying, ‘We just need to have some sort of hope and some short-term goals to be rolled out so we have something to really look forward to.'”