Old Orchard Beach, which attracts thousands of visitors each summer, issued an emergency declaration Thursday that prohibits short-term rentals of private residential properties and new occupancies of lodging establishments and campgrounds until at least April 30.

Town Manager Larry Mead and Emergency Management Director Fred LaMontagne signed the emergency order, which they said is necessary to protect the health and welfare of the town’s 8,900 year-round residents from the spread of the novel coronavirus. The population swells to more than 35,000 during the summer tourist season with visitors from across the nation and world, particularly Canada.

The order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday and will remain in effect through April 30 or until Gov. Janet Mills lifts her stay-at-home order, which was issued Tuesday.

The town order also recommends, “in the strongest possible terms,” that owners of second homes or seasonal homes who are currently not in Old Orchard Beach stay away until May 1. Those who must come to town are being encouraged to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

Mead said letters regarding the emergency declaration were sent Thursday to property owners in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The occupancy of seasonal accommodations in Old Orchard Beach has “grown notably” in the past week as individuals seek to flee the spread of the COVID-19 virus in their home communities, the emergency declaration says. The order points out that there are thousands of seasonal and temporary accommodations in the community.

The declaration also contains a warning. It says that Old Orchard Beach lacks the resources to adequately protect its residents if the town were to experience “a large unanticipated spike in population, because such a surge would overwhelm” essential municipal services as well as the food supply.

In addition to the prohibition on short-term lodging, the emergency declaration also places restrictions on the sale of takeout food at businesses in Old Orchard Beach’s downtown business district, which abuts its world-famous beach.

Mead said the town, in order to promote safe social distancing, will require takeout restaurants to serve food only by curbside pickup or delivery to another location. Food service will not be allowed at a counter or takeout window.

The restriction will affect Lisa’s Pizza and Pier Fries, which has remained open until now, but which does not have interior seating for customers.


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