STATEWIDE – A recent negative COVID-19 test. If you’re a tourist and you come to Maine with that paperwork, it could get you out of serving the 14-day self-quarantine for visitors.
“In the framework as it is outlined today, visitors that would want to come from overnight could have a COVID test and as long as they test negative, would be able to have that as an alternative to quarantining,” Heather Johnson, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, said Thursday.
Department staff and the governor’s are working with business owners and industry officials on a draft plan they call KeepMEHealthy.
The alternative plan to the quarantine is expected to be finalized in the coming days.
Officials at the Maine Tourism Association and Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors Bureau both said they appreciated the efforts to find an alternative but still have concerns about how the program would run and be enforced.
“It puts a lot of pressure on the hotels to monitor those situations and I don’t think it’s necessarily a workable situation,” said Maine Tourism Association CEO Tony Cameron. “I think the intentions are good.”
He said there are a lot of unanswered questions in the draft proposal.
“The urgency to come up with an alternative is incredibly urgent. I can’t underscore that enough,” Cameron said. “Each day that goes by our industry is really bleeding. I think we’re going to see a lot of businesses not make it this year.”
“There is a lot of concerns about how to actually make it happen,” said Greater Bangor CVB Director Kerrie Tripp. “What is the availability for tests outside the state of Maine. What if they get to the state of Maine and haven’t had a test?
“There are all those concerns and that is what we tried to voice,” she said.
Johnson agreed there was no clear answer.
“As you would expect, there is no kind of one answer or one solution to that problem and so what you are looking at is a multi-layer approach to mitigate the risk and to create opportunity,” she said.
Tripp said the tourism industry will work to salvage what it can of the season.
“We’ll roll with the punches, we’ll keep pushing forward and we’ll do everything we can to support some sort of tourism season in the state of Maine,” she said. “We will survive this.”