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Hotels in Maine urge Governor Mills to lift 14-day quarantine for out-of-staters

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More than 30 hotels in Maine are asking Governor Janet Mills to remove the 14 day quarantine for out-of-state visitors. 

“Our visitors, regardless of the state they live in, should not be discouraged from traveling by a quarantine or testing requirement…” a letter signed by hoteliers Mark Walsh and David Witham, said. They speak on behalf of a newly formed group of hospitality businesses: Work with ME.

On Monday, hotels reopened as part of phase two of Gov. Mills’ plan to restart the economy. They are permitted to house only Maine residents or out-of-state visitors and essential workers who have quarantined for two weeks. 

Hotels felt the adverse effects of the requirement over Memorial Day weekend, which the letter notes was a “disaster for so many businesses.” Witham, the CEO of Witham Family Hotels, told the Bangor Daily News that of the hotels he opened on Monday, one had only two rooms booked. 

Despite Mills’ 14-day quarantine, Work with ME is confident that hotels are prepared to safely house out-of-staters as soon as they arrive in Maine. 

“We alone have already invested tens of thousands of dollars in PPE, implemented best practice safety procedures that most often go above and beyond state guidelines, and created educational communication channels with our guests,” the letter said. 

Work with ME is proposing a two-part plan for reopening hotels. Phase 1, which would run until August 31st, involves enhanced sanitation protocols for cleaning rooms, pools, exercises facilities and spas, and eliminates breakfast buffets and self-serve options, among other things. 

“Like you, we believe that Maine’s tourism industry can re-open without unreasonable restrictions that will have long-term impacts on one of Maine’s most vital economic lifelines,” a statement from Work with ME’s website says. 

The administration responded to the letter on Monday, saying that they would “re-examine the 14-day quarantine” but “do so in a way that protects the health of Maine people.” 

“The last thing anyone wants to do is to overwhelm our health care system, put frontline responders more at risk, or potentially further destabilize our economy for an even longer period of time,” a statement from the governor’s office said.  

Work with ME’s proposal follows similar requests from Maine businesses. Last month, a group of tourism organizations, including Visit Greater Bangor, the Maine Campground Owners Association, and Ski Maine, wrote a letter to Mills asking her to lift the 14-day quarantine.

About Isabelle Christie

Isabelle Christie is a senior at Marist College pursuing a degree in history and minors in communication and writing. She is currently serving as Maine Policy Institute’s summer 2020 communications intern.

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