BAR HARBOR — Business owners in town have a new word to describe the Fourth of July and the summer season.
“We’ve coined a new term here called ‘COVID busy’ and that means we’re not busy like in years past. Saturday we were COVID busy so we’re thankful for that and you can see things picking up, especially with the governor relaxing some of the quarantine restrictions,” said Glenn Tucker, owner of Coastal Kayaking Tours, Acadia Bike and New England Shore Excursions.
“It was absolutely dismal up until about two weeks ago, I mean as bleak as it could be,” said Tucker, who has been in business for more than 24 years.
Over on Main Street, an Irish pub that opened three years ago is glad to be open.
“Our Fourth of July was as good as we hoped it could be. We had less incidents than we thought we might have, which is great,” said Cody Gordon, owner of Leary’s Landing Irish Pub. “Most people complied very well with the mandates that were set forth for us to follow through with.”
Another struggle is finding staff and places for them to stay, Gordon said, adding that is not a new problem for the tourist town, but it is more difficult under COVID rules and restrictions.
Masks were required basically everywhere in Bar Harbor and each business had its own rules.
“The stress is unbelievable, trying to balance that and making sure that everybody is safe because I feel like this is one of the most, probably, dangerous places to be working,” said Thirsty Whale Tavern owner Heather Sorokin. “So it’s a very hard balance.”
She said she doesn’t want restrictions lifted.
“I’m one of the few business owners who don’t. Like it’s this tightrope between safety and business and I would rather go slow and steady, make it through the season, rather than go full boat and have to be shut down in a couple of weeks. Or lose important people. We don’t want anybody getting sick,” said Sorokin, who owns the restaurant with her husband Basil Eleftheriou.
Tucker said sales between 30 and 50 percent of last year’s totals is considered COVID busy.
“That’s pretty busy because during the early part of the season we went through periods where we were doing 5 and 10 percent of what we did previous years,” he said. “And we are also in the short excursions business so for the rest of the season, that’s a dead business.”