Getting back to business, safely

By Sen. Dave Miramant | Jun 26, 2020

These past few months have been an exercise in patience and flexibility for all of us. As individuals and as a society, we’ve made sacrifices to protect the most vulnerable among us while we gathered information to understand this new iteration of the coronavirus.

Now that we have a clearer understanding of how we can safely be together, it’s time to start emerging from our homes and reopening our economy.

I’m proud of the way that our state has handled this public health crisis. Before adjourning in March, the Legislature passed emergency measures to prioritize public health and to establish a safety net for those who were going to be impacted by the lockdown.

When Gov. Janet Mills announced her staged reopening plan, the Department of Economic and Community Development compiled detailed checklists so that businesses and workers could understand how to get back up and running while protecting the health of their customers. This guidance has evolved over time as more information became available and as we learned from what other states have done.

Now, restaurants across the state are open for indoor dining, bars and tasting rooms are open for outdoor service, gyms and salons have opened their doors and are providing some services, and even summer camps are back at it.

Business owners and workers are being responsible and mindful of their customers’ health by restructuring the way they deliver goods and services, and we must all do our part to respect the safety measures they’ve put in place.

Keeping physical distance between us and those outside our household is important. The initial shutdown and interaction in essential businesses showed that we could keep people safe with that simple courtesy, so be mindful to give workers and other customers their space when you’re visiting a store or a restaurant.

Be careful to cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer — many businesses have it readily available. Most importantly, take care of yourself and stay home if you are feeling ill.

For those who are at high risk or who are still uncomfortable dining indoors, there are many ways to support local businesses while minimizing risk. Many restaurants are still offering delivery, and restaurants and many retailers are offering curbside pick-up.

If you’re eager to get out of the house but don’t want to go too far from home, campgrounds offer a great way to enjoy this beautiful weather. Be sure to make a reservation soon; sites are filling up fast!

Unless you know you haven’t been exposed to the coronavirus, avoid large gatherings and folks who are at higher risk of more severe symptoms because of their age, compromised immune systems or other health complications. That’s why I encourage you to request an absentee ballot from the Secretary of State as soon as possible.

Most poll workers are elderly, high-risk folks who have worked the polls for many years, and we owe it to them to protect their health while they do this critical work. This moment should also make us re-think the way we run our elections in the future.

With in-person voting being at best a hassle and at worst inaccessible or a serious health risk for many, we need to imagine what an electoral system that allows everyone to safely participate can look like. That’s why last session I introduced a bill that would institute a vote-by-mail system in Maine. Although this bill did not pass, I’ll keep working to make our voting process more accessible to all Mainers.

I know that if we all do our part, we can return to living life the way it should be, while staying healthy and protecting those who most need it. I’m looking forward to another beautiful summer in our amazing corner of the world, and I can't think of a better place to learn how to deal with the challenges this virus has thrown at us.

If I can ever be of help to you or your family, or if you’d like to share your thoughts, reach out to me at David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov or by calling 287-1515.

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