Officials in Maine are loosening restrictions to get more people outside on Memorial Day weekend.
On Tuesday, members of Gov. Janet Mills’ economic reopening team announced that private campgrounds can allow Maine residents in as early as Friday, days ahead of what many had expected.
“In advance of Memorial Day weekend, we are accelerating the reopening of campgrounds and RV parks for Maine residents,” said Heather Johnson, the commissioner of Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development, adding that “studies indicate that outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities.”
The reopening rule change, which was announced Tuesday, does not apply to state parks, only private campgrounds.
It also explicitly forbids any RV park or campground that’s opening from taking early reservations from anyone from out of state, whether or not they’ve quarantined.
Those visitors will have to wait until June 1.
“We’ve unfortunately had to already turn people away that aren’t from Maine,” said Billie McNamara, the operations manager at Loon’s Haven Family Campground in Naples.
Despite many new protocols and limitations, she said some business is much better than staying closed, calling her reaction “extreme excitement.”
McNamara told NECN/NBC10 Boston that the campground is all set for Friday’s open. Immediate changes will include mandatory social distancing and extra cleaning at the camping area’s laundromat.
Bath houses and most other facilities will not be open until June, and they will be given extra sanitization once they are open.
Overall though, the campground’s staff think their industry has a lot to offer people who want to social distance and get the fresh air so many people are craving.
Out-of-staters may have to wait a little longer and not every park may choose to open.
However, there’s a sense among some owners that Mainers have a unique opportunity this year by getting a chance to enjoy their state for a brief tourist-free moment and help neighbors make the most of what’s now an even shorter summer business season.
“There’s a lot of places in Maine that Mainers have never seen and campgrounds are a great way to see it,” said McNamara.
“Let’s put Maine money back into Maine.”
Maine’s campground owner’s association recommends checking ahead with campgrounds to make sure they’re open and find out what their COVID-19 restrictions might be.
All non-essential travelers to Maine from out of state are required by the governor to quarantine for 14 days after arrival.