Remember to keep supporting our local businesses

By Sen. Dave Miramant | May 15, 2020

At times, it can still be hard to fully grasp the world we’re living in today. Just over two months ago, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Maine. Quite a bit has changed since then. The virus has taken the lives of our fellow Mainers, forced businesses to close and kept kids from going to school. These past weeks have been some of the most challenging times many of us have ever experienced. Whether you’ve been dealing with a slow and frustrating unemployment process, serving the community by continuing to work as an “essential employee,” or just struggling with the isolation most of us have experienced, it hasn’t been easy.

The good news, however, is that in Maine, we have done the right things from the start of this crisis. We quickly began social distancing, taking extra care to practice good hygiene and stayed home when we could. Our actions have been largely successful; we have “flattened the curve” and kept our hospitals from being overwhelmed.

These decisive actions have brought us to the present situation, where we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Gov. Janet Mills recently released her Rural Reopening Plan. Under this plan, in 12 out of Maine’s 16 counties, including Knox County, retail stores were allowed to open on May 11 and restaurants could open for dine-in customers on May 18, so long as they followed certain safety measures.

However, we aren’t out of woods yet, and ensuring a business can conform to the Department of Economic and Community Development guidelines for safe operation won’t be easy for those involved. That’s why it’s important that in this time of transition, we all continue supporting our local businesses, fishermen and women, and restaurants.

There are lots of ways to help out the folks who are looking to restart their businesses. For example, one thing that’s come from this time of social distancing is a direct connection between fishermen and women, and consumers. When restaurants closed, their demand went way down, leaving them with few markets for their catch. However, folks across our state have worked to connect the rest of us directly with folks who make their living from the sea. One example of this is the United Fisherman Foundation, where they have put together a map and directory for seafood harvesters to connect with consumers. You can try out this tool on unitedfishermenfoundation.com. It’s a win-win scenario: We support these folks’ business and get fresh seafood in return.

In addition to continuing to shop at local stores online and ordering food to-go from restaurants, we can also begin visiting our favorite local businesses in person once again. Because there will be limits on capacity as well as other measures to protect our health, these businesses need our support to make it through this time.

So keep ordering that food to-go, venture out to your local shop, or get that haircut and make sure you can do it safely according to your level of health. Continuing to be smart when we do these things is critical for our success in going forward. I’d also encourage you to read up on the DECD guidelines – knowing them will keep you up to date with the reopening plans.

As we continue working through these times, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance to you or your family. You can email me at Dave.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov, or call my office at 207-287-1515. And please, be well and stay safe. Together, we will defeat this virus and get back to the Maine way of life we all love.

Sen. Dave Miramant represents coastal Knox County in the Maine Senate.

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