rural restaurants

Restaurants in 12 of 16 Maine Counties Allowed to Reopen

Reopening dates for restaurants were moved up from June 1 in counties that have had fewer cases of the coronavirus

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Hungry Mainers can eat at restaurants and have a seat in 12 of the state's 16 counties, where restaurants were allowed to reopen Monday to dine-in customers.

Reopening dates for restaurants were moved up from June 1 in counties that have had fewer cases of the coronavirus. Those restaurants that are reopening have limited seating to ensure social distancing can be maintained and have to take extra steps when it comes to sanitizing.

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Some restaurants said they would give customers the option of using plastic utensils and plastic or paper drinking cups.

One of the places that unlocked the door and brought customers and staff back in was the A1 Diner in downtown Gardiner.

"I have people that I saw for every day for the better part of a year or more, and I haven't seen them in eight weeks," said the diner's owner, Aaron Harris.

Harris told NECN and NBC10 Boston that he was able to offer curbside takeout, but that he had to lay off staff and run the restaurant alone with his wife to scale back properly.

"We were way less than half of our ordinary revenues," he said.

Monday, servers like Kassie Nixon were back on payroll and adjusting to wearing protective gloves and masks to keep themselves and customers safe.

"My job now is very different from what it looked like two months ago," said Nixon, who only gets close to tables to drop off food.

Aesthetically, the biggest alteration to the diner is yet to come. Harris said he had ordered plexiglass shields that will be placed to separate people as much as possible while also trying not to damage the diner’s historic interior.

Remote camps as well as sporting camps, which provide access to wilderness activities such as hunting or fishing, were also allowed to open Monday to Maine residents, along with out-of-state visitors who have completed a 14-day quarantine.

The 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors has been a source of frustration for Maine's tourism industry. Mills has said the state is looking at alternatives.

There was one additional death as a result of the new coronavirus reported on Monday bringing the state total to 71, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 26 new cases reported on Monday for a total of 1,713, according to the CDC.

NBC10 Boston and Associated Press
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