After an announcement from the state, eateries in the Greater Portland area are transitioning back to indoor dining while also making changes to accommodate health and safety guidelines.

Because of plateauing cases of COVID-19 and stabilization of hospitals throughout York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin counties, Gov. Mills announced that restaurants, and cafes, and breweries, which had only been able to offer takeout and delivery since mid-March, could resume indoor dining in a way that follows the COVID-19 Prevention Checklist.

As of June 17, the administration also permitted nail salons, tattoo parlors, and fitness centers to resume operation, the announcement said.

“Maine people and businesses have worked hard to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and the stabilization of cases and hospitalizations in York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin counties help demonstrate that,” Mills said. “But this pandemic is not over. As we reopen restaurants for indoor dining and other businesses in these areas, we remain vigilant. Businesses must strictly adhere to health and safety protocols and all people should wear face coverings, stay six feet apart whenever possible, and frequently wash their hands. If we continue to protect ourselves and one another by taking these steps, we can reopen our economy in a safe way and limit the spread of this dangerous virus.”

Restaurants in South Portland and Scarborough are navigating all the changes and guidelines.

Joe Christopher, owner of the Saltwater Grille on 231 Front St. in South Portland, said that the use of outdoor seating has made social distancing measures easier.

“With multiple indoor and outdoor dining spaces it’s easy to maintain proper social distancing at Saltwater Grille,” he said. “We have two outdoor decks, two private event spaces, and our normal indoor dining area. Even though we are far from our normal, full capacity we can still accommodate a good amount of people.”

Jen Brenerman, owner of Dunstan Tap & Table, 6 Stewart Drive, Dunstan Crossing, in Scarborough, said that the past few months have been “a lot of ups and downs.” The restaurant is encouraging reservations as well.

“We have tables six feet apart,” she said. “Tables don’t have anything on them. I created sanitizing checklists. Everything’s single-use. We’re lucky because we have the space. We’re big enough to not lose too many tables.”

She said that customers have been excited to get out again.

“We have so many people who want to get out” Brenerman said. “We ask that everyone wears a mask up to the table. They’re very understanding and cooperative. We’ve been very busy and they’re happy to be out.”

Customers at the Salt Water Grille have also been happy with the “improved food and service,” Christopher said.

“Our staff has adjusted to working in masks at all times and we have been able to provide a clean, safe dining environment that goes above and beyond the protocols set forth by the state,” he said.

According to the Mills administration, new COVID-19 cases in Cumberland County have decreased to about 20 a day.

“We’ll continue to monitor the data closely,” Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said. “Maine people have limited potential spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 by being responsible in physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and hand washing since March, and we trust that high level of responsibility will continue as restaurants throughout the state reopen.”

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