Portland police were expected on Wharf Street late Saturday and after closing time early Sunday, after reports of large gatherings of revelers in close proximity in the popular nightlife district on Friday night. The city warned businesses that code officers and police would be watching closely on Saturday so the scene wouldn’t repeat itself and to ensure enforcement of pandemic safety regulations.

A series of social media posts from Friday night and early Saturday raised alarms at City Hall and across the community, prompting the warning. Photos and videos have been circulating on social media of crowded conditions on Wharf Street at night.

A sign citing CDC recommendations about social distancing and masks sits in the middle of Wharf Street in Portland’s Old Port on Saturday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

City officials said they’ve taken measures to educate businesses about what’s required to keep people safe under the state-led reopening plan. On Saturday morning, they spoke to business owners again as a reminder, they said.

“If the regulations are not followed by businesses then the City will be forced to eliminate outdoor dining on Wharf Street and in other areas in which violations are found,” a news release from the city said.

Two code officers and the Portland Police Department would be on Wharf Street on Saturday night to make sure regulations are enforced, the release said.

Wharf Street runs parallel to and between Commercial Street and Fore Street, and is home to numerous restaurants and bars.

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