OGUNQUIT — As we enter our fourth week of government-forced closure, some things have become obvious to me yet possibly not to others.

My restaurant of 43 years has been ordered to shut down. We are in a tourist area in southern Maine that is very seasonal. Our hotels, art galleries and boutiques have also been forced to shut down. Our volume would have been at 30 percent of full during this “shoulder season,” but we are currently at 0 percent with no clear plan in sight as to how to open and bring back business.

I have full understanding of the events that have caused this, but I have enormous amounts of frustration with the way the matter has been handled.

As I isolate and quarantine, I notice “essential” businesses operating with government sanction. For example, the gas stations display pizza for sale, “help yourself” hot dogs, self-serve coffee bar and liquor sales, all while you buy your motor oil and pump your own gas. These gas stations are probably visited by 1,500 people daily. This does not meet the definition of social distancing in my book.

I question the sanitation knowledge of these gas stations that so many frequent. My staff all go through rigorous sanitation training (implemented pre-COVID) and even more so now, but we still are not allowed to open our dining rooms.

Next, let’s go to the closest chain grocery store. I am met by an aisle of fresh fruits and produce all exposed for everyone to look at and touch to confirm their freshness and ripeness. This aisle is exceptionally well situated by the entrance allowing everyone who immediately comes out of their cars to visit the unprotected foods.


The big-box store might be my favorite example, though. Let’s walk through the aisles of Walmart, Home Depot, Target and Lowe’s. As I walked down the aisles, I noticed many shoppers buying the essential discounted 2020 Easter items. This past week, I noticed fewer than half of the store employees and shoppers wearing a mask or any other virus-protection gear. These stores see thousands of people every day.

Liquor stores are open, yet in-person Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are now against the law. Enough said with that one.

As of today, in Maine (35,000 square miles), 875 people have contracted COVID-19 and 35 people have died of it. The ages of the people who have died are varied from their 20s up. The largest percentage of people dying are in their 50s, at 19.15 percent of all deaths reported.

Beaches, national parks, state parks, local parks, playgrounds and golf courses have been shut down. These are six of the areas that, if open, might help with curbing the spousal, child, alcohol and drug abuse that run rampant through our state.

All our businesses should have been treated equally from the beginning of this pandemic. Nothing should have had exceptions. The governments could very easily have referred to occupancy limits, which every public and private building open to the public has. They could very easily have reduced all of us to a temporary occupancy limit of 30 percent to 50 percent and allowed every business and public area to continue to operate. This would have made our reopening less of a mystery.

Maybe the state government should ban chain businesses for one month and let just independents reopen. This would give us the same opportunity to restart.

It smells like failure again. The federal government was not protecting small business with its so-called bailout but only saving itself and its interest. It appears that once again government has it backward and has wound up protecting Wall Street instead of Main Street.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.