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Maine hotels reopen to out-of-staters, but will they come?

By Staff | Jun 27, 2020

FILE-In this Tuesday, June 9, 2020 file photo, visitors walk through the shopping district in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. State public health officials said Wednesday, June 24, 2020, the state has surpassed 3,000 cases of the coronavirus, though the state is still well behind most of the Northeast. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, files)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine innkeepers and hoteliers are opening their doors to out-of-state tourists on Friday for those who’ve either tested negative for the coronavirus or are willing to quarantine for 14 days.

But many say visitors are canceling over the measures.

Greg Dugal, spokesman for HospitalityMaine, said a survey of 51 testing locations between Maine and Virginia revealed only four locations where someone could get tested and get results within 72 hours or arriving in Maine.

“There’s not enough availability for tests,” Dugal said.

A panel that’s tasked with assisting with the recovery of the state’s tourism industry is recommending easing the testing and quarantine requirements. The requirements apply to all states except New Hampshire and Vermont.

Draft recommendations from the Hospitality, Tourism and Retail subcommittee of Gov. Janet Mills’ Economic Recovery Committee suggests Maine’s outlier status is going to hurt the state’s tourism industry, the Portland Press Herald said.

“We feel compelled to make this recommendation because the economic consequences are so massive for these sectors and Mainers more generally,” the draft report said.

The subcommittee’s suggestions are not final and may be revised based on input from the full economic recovery panel.

In other news related to the virus in Maine:

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THE NUMBERS

Maine public health officials said Friday that 32 more people have tested positive for the virus. That brings the state’s total to 3,102. The number of deaths remained flat at 103.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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RACIAL DISPARITY

Democratic state Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross said Friday members of the Maine Black community received an invitation from Mills to talk about racial disparity and coronavirus in the state. Black residents make up more than a fifth of Maine’s positive coronavirus cases, though they make up less than 2% of the state population overall.

Talbot Ross and others held a news conference on Thursday to talk about the disparity and how the state can respond to it. She said the invitation is a sign that “there’s progress.”

Mills and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Friday the state is working to address the disparity. Mills said she’d like to see a specific proposal about how CARES Act funds can be used to help.

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MUNICIPAL GRANTS

Mills also announced that her administration has approved nearly $9 million in grants to almost 100 municipalities in the state as part of the Keep Maine Healthy Plan that supports coronavirus prevention and education efforts.

The grants are made possible by federal money. Mills said the grants can help with public education activities, public health support, local business assistance and other essentials.

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BE KIND

Business groups in Maine are launching a campaign called “Let’s Be Kind” in the wake of reports of customers harassing employees about state health guidelines. The customers don’t want to follow the guidelines, such as using face masks, WCSH-TV reported.

The Retail Association of Maine, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association launched the new campaign on Thursday. It’s intended to encourage people to prioritize respect and kindness while following safety guidelines.

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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

The Maine Principals’ Association has released rules for high school sports, but has not yet scheduled any fall games.

The phased-in approach allows students to reenter athletic facilities for the first time since early spring to begin physical training, and to participate in two-week summer sessions aimed at individual disciplines.

There will be no team hydration stations during the early phases, so students, coaches and staff must bring their own water or face being turned away, the MPA said.

Masks will be required when social distancing cannot be maintained with exceptions for training periods and intense physical activities, the MPA said.

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