KENNEBUNKPORT – One day after Kennebunkport selectmen issued a travel advisory, recommending hotel and other lodging providers to defer bookings during te coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Janet Mills followed suit with an order that suspends lodging operations through April.

Kennebunkport’s Thursday Travel Advisory was similar to others made in Maine in recent days, but in recommending owners of rental lodging defer bookings, and that seasonal residents remain at their primary residences, stopped short of ordering them to do so.

Selectmen noted Kennebunkport and other York County coastal towns are prominent destinations for visitors and individuals occupying seasonal and rental residences and short-term lodging, which they said heightens the risk of community spread of COVID-19 through public contact.

β€œThe actions requested in this Travel Advisory Order are not taken lightly, given the importance of private property rights of local owners and visitors, who the town considers to be integral members of the community, and who have assisted in making the town what it is today and what it will continue to be going forward,” selectmen wrote.

The nearby communities of Wells and Old Orchard Beach have issued orders prohibiting short-term rentals.

On Friday, April 3, Mills suspended lodging operations, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, and short-term rentals such as those available through VRBO, Airbnb, RV parks and campgrounds, and all public and private camping facilities as well as online reservations statewide, effective April 5 through April 30.

Mills’ order makes exceptions,including lodging provided for children in emergency placements, those at risk of domestic violence, and homeless individuals as permitted by the state – and for accommodations for health care workers or other workers deemed necessary to support public health, public safety, or critical infrastructure.

Mills’ order also mandates that travelers arriving in Maine, regardless of their state of residency, self-quarantine for 14 days to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Mills said while she hopes compliance will be voluntary, she noted violation is a Class E misdemeanor crime, which carries a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, upon conviction.

She noted Maine is a welcoming state.

“We welcome the many service members and medical professionals and others who are coming here to help us,” she said. “I ask Maine people not to make assumptions about others, and we welcome the cooperation of other visitors and returning residents in quarantining themselves and keeping us all safe in accordance with this order. Let us treat all people in Maine with compassion and kindness. That is how we will get through this.”

On Saturday, Kennebunkport issued an order banning parking at Colony Beach and Goose Rocks Beach.

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