Peter Spano was in his store, Siempre Mas, on Saturday afternoon cleaning up after a couple of months of closure. People, seeing him inside, knocked on his door and asked to come in.

“I had to tell them no,” said Spano, who has been in the same location on Fore Street in Portland’s Old Port for 30 years. “We’re opening Monday.”

Monday is the first day of Stage 2 of Gov. Janet Mills’ phased approach to reopen Maine, and its economy, during the coronavirus pandemic. Retail stores, previously closed or limited to curbside pickup, can now open to customers.

In addition, restaurants in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties can offer outdoor dining, although indoor dining is still prohibited. Other openings Monday include:

• Ten state parks that were previously closed, along with state park campgrounds.
• Lodgings to Maine residents and out-of-state residents who have completed Maine’s quarantine guidelines.
• Campgrounds and RV parks to out-of-state residents who have completed Maine’s quarantine guidelines.
• Day camps and summer recreation services.

Public gatherings that were limited to 10 or fewer people have now been increased up to 50 people, but the 14-day quarantine for people entering Maine remains.

Those who own retail shops aren’t quite sure what the opening will mean.

“It will be good, but it’s going to be slow and cautious,” said Rick Lowell, the owner of Casablanca Comics on Middle Street in Portland. “Our primary concern is the well-being and safety of our employees and customers.”

Peter Spano puts red tape down on the floor of his store, Siempre Mas, in Portland’s Old Port on Sunday. Spano was applying the tape 6 feet apart to provide guides to customers to maintain the required physical distancing. Spano was preparing the store to open to customers on Monday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Like many businesses, Casablanca Comics has been doing mail orders and curbside service. Lowell said all safety precautions will be followed: customers must wear face masks, social distancing must be followed and there will be a limited number of customers allowed in the store at all times. He added that the design of his store, with open aisles, allows for social distancing to be followed easily.

At Siempre Mas, Spano said he received a phone call from a longtime customer asking if he would be opening Monday.

“When I said absolutely, she went ‘Yoohoo!’ ” he said. “She was much more happy than I am.”

Spano spent the weekend preparing his store, which still had many of its winter items on display. The store, which sells clothing, jewelry, and other goods from around the world, closed in mid-March.

“We’re putting out our summer stuff and looking forward to Monday,” he said. “We expect it to be fairly busy but not too busy.”

He, too, noted that all safety protocols will be followed. He even hopes to have someone outside the door to sanitize customers’ hands before they enter the store.

A spokeswoman for L.L. Bean said Sunday that the company’s flagship store in Freeport will reopen Monday with limited hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Statewide, restaurants have been trying to survive on takeout and delivery services. Those in more rural parts of the state saw an easing of restrictions two weeks ago. The changes that take effect Monday still  prohibit indoor dining in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York county eateries, but does give them the chance to offer outdoor dining, which many regard as a plus.

At Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant in Saco, approximately 50 people can be seated at 18 picnic tables on the outdoor patios. The full menu will be offered beginning Monday at 11 a.m.

“We’ve had some great response since (the pandemic began), locals have supported us well and business has picked up week by week,” said Alan Hines, the restaurant’s manager. “We’re hoping now that people can sit and enjoy a meal on our patio, things will open up.”

Luke’s Lobster on Portland Pier will not open on Monday, which is its normal day off. Instead, it will begin offering outdoor dining on Tuesday on its patio. Reservations will be required.

Ben Conniff, one of the co-owners of Luke’s Lobster, said the restaurant planned to offer only outdoor dining even if the state guidelines allowed indoor dining.

Reflected in the door window of Siempre Mas in Portland, passersby look toward the store while walking along Fore Street on Sunday. Peter Spano and his wife Sita, owners of the store, are preparing to open to customers on Monday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“Our instinct is that this is the right cautious first step to getting reopened,” said Conniff.

He noted that all staff members will wear masks and all customers will be required to wear masks unless they are seated at their table. The menu will be limited at first, slowly expanding as summer arrives.

“We’ll see how it goes,” said Conniff. “We’re hoping to get folks excited about eating down by the water, while we maintain distance and make sure everyone is safe.”

The opening of the state parks is also welcome news. Amelia Meier of South Portland said she and her fiance, Alex Foster, like to spend as much time outdoors as possible with their dog, a Samoyed named Freddie.

“We’re just outdoorsy, active people and Maine has so much to offer in terms of places to explore,” she said. “I feel, with everything that’s going on, having those (parks) open, people will appreciate those nice hidden gems even more, appreciate their own state even more.”

Meier said her favorite parks that are reopening are Reid State Park in Georgetown and Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth.

“When those parks were closed, that limited the places to go to,” she said. “I think people will appreciate the little things even more. Those areas are gorgeous and scenic.”

Acadia National Park will begin a phased reopening Monday when the Park Loop Road opens. Carriage roads will be open for walkers beginning Friday, but remain closed to bicyclists because of downed trees and washouts.

Casablanca’s Lowell said he isn’t sure what the opening of Stage 2 will mean – “I know there are people who are still not willing to go out and I totally understand that,” he said – but added it will have one big benefit: “It will be nice to see people face to face again.”

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