BRUNSWICK — Brunswick’s non-essential, retail businesses can now open their doors for contactless delivery or pickup, under a change adopted Monday night to the town’s emergency proclamation. 

The initial order, adopted March 23, prohibited retail and non-essential businesses from operating and allowed only one person in the establishment at a time. 

Under the new rules, which more closely align with the stay-home order passed by Gov. Janet Mills,  up to five people can be in non-essential businesses that are closed so long as no customers are permitted to enter the building and the business conducted does not involve in-person contact with others. The state allows for up to 10. 

For retail businesses reopening with curbside pick-up, all transactions must be done outside of the business with “minimal person-to-person contact.” Business owners must also “take appropriate measures to ensure that customers do not congregate at the entrance to the establishment, such as by calling customers ahead of pickup, (scheduling) appointments or equally effective measures,” according to the order.

Councilors encouraged the public to pay by card, check or exact change whenever possible to limit person-to-person interaction. 

Councilor James Mason said the change was intended to help businesses start functioning again, and that while the “no-contact” or curbside stipulation may be “onerous,” it is “certainly not as onerous as nothing at all.” 


The change comes as Maine starts to role out a plan for a phased reopening of businesses. Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Janet Mills released a multi-stage reopening plan for the state, with the first phase starting Friday.

According to a letter of support from the Brunswick Downtown Association, many local business owners and managers expressed concerns over their inability to generate any income under the previous restrictions. 

“While we understand the necessity of the town council’s actions to curb the spread of COVID-19, we believe it is possible to begin thoughtfully, carefully and gradually reopening,” the organization wrote. 

Dustin Larson, co-owner of Hatch on Maine, a small retail shop downtown, spoke in favor of the change and said that, “not having curbside pickup available is extremely detrimental.” 

“In this already difficult situation, it makes it even more difficult for us to sell things,” she said. “Everyone wants to do their part to keep everyone healthy and safe. … Most business owners are very responsible” and want to do what’s right while being able to keep their businesses open, she added. 

Also on Monday, councilors again proposed a requirement that the public wear a mask or a face covering when entering public-facing indoor businesses, mirroring a similar requirement for employees passed last week. 


However, the proposal failed a second time, by the same 4-5 vote, with councilors John Perreault, Dan Ankeles, Christopher Watkinson, James Mason and Toby McGrath against. 

Councilor Dan Jenkins reiterated his feelings that the issue is an “all or nothing” one, and likened requiring just the employees to wear masks to “having a smoking section on an airplane.” 

Councilor Kathy Wilson, who at 74 said she is “theoretically high-risk,” staunchly supported the measure, and said she feels strongly that “you voting against this is your willingness to put me at risk.” 

Others, though, had questions surrounding the implementation and accessibility of masks or face coverings and expressed concerns over turning people away who may not have the means to obtain a mask. 

Watkinson said he wants everyone to wear a mask in public, but was not comfortable mandating it. 

Councilors instead voted unanimously to “strongly recommend” masks or facial coverings for community members entering indoor public spaces.

This first stage of the state’s reopening plan “will also newly require that Maine people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” It is currently unclear what locations may be included under this requirement. 

Further statewide guidance on cloth face coverings is expected to be issued in the coming days. 

The council is scheduled to meet and discuss the restrictions again May 4.

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