Officials reopened Cape Elizabeth Town Hall and Thomas Memorial Library for regular walk-in service on Tuesday, marking the final pandemic-related restrictions to be lifted in town.

“It was good to accomplish that milestone, to be sure,” said Town Manager Matthew Sturgis.

Town Hall closed in March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the state, Sturgis said. Since then, residents conducted business by phone or online and could visit town hall by appointment. Walk-in service remained suspended until now, in part because the building’s size made it difficult to ensure social distancing.

With restrictions easing statewide and current data from the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating more than 89% of residents have been vaccinated, officials were able to reopen Town Hall, Sturgis said. Residents are still asked to maintain social distancing inside the building wherever possible, but masks are no longer required, he said.

Thomas Memorial Library Director Rachel Davis said the library also opened its doors to regular walk-in traffic June 1.

“It was really fun to see people,” she said.


The library, she said, is only requiring masks in the children’s room. Social distancing is recommended, but “We’re not being social distancing police or anything.”

During the pandemic, Davis said, the library engaged in new online initiatives and programs. While the library usually offers less programming during the summer, Davis said the online gatherings and presentations have been so successful she thinks many will continue despite the library now being fully open.

“We’re going to keep it going for the time being,” she said.

As the town reopens, the impact of the pandemic on local business is hard to quantify. Quincy Hentzel, CEO of the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce, which covers Cape Elizabeth, said it is difficult to say for certain just how many businesses may have had to close their doors regionwide.

“It was hard on pretty much everyone,” she said.

Restaurants were common casualties of pandemic-related restrictions, and Hentzel said she personally knew of three in Cape Elizabeth that closed within the past 18 months. But even in those cases, she said, it is difficult to know just what was to blame.

“Those types of businesses, I think, were hit the hardest,” she said.

As to the future, Sturgis is optimistic that tourism-related business will be better than last year. Anecdotally, he said he knows of one hotel that has received a lot of bookings, and he noted that parking receipts recorded last week from Fort Williams Park were up 40% compared to the week before. He said he thinks that trend will continue.

“We’re looking forward to having a big summer,” Sturgis said.

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