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Small Group Of Mainers Protest Old Orchard Beach Restrictions

A small group of protestors, some with beach chairs and “Don't Tread on Me” flags, gathered near the Old Orchard Beach pier Sunday to protest a town policy that prohibits sunbathing and sitting on the beach. Walking and swimming on the beach are allowed.

Mike Holman, who lives in Old Orchard Beach, says the governor's COVID-19 orders and the town's beach policy have been extremely harmful to the town's small businesses.

“Look, this beach is not crowded,” Holman says. “If people want to be distant from each other they can. It's not a big deal.”

Several of the protestors said they do not like Gov. Janet Mills' directive that allows Maine lodging providers to begin accepting reservations for June 1 and beyond, but maintains a 14-day quarantine for non-Maine residents.

Seagrass Inn owner Peter Guidi says he and his wife purchased the hotel in 2018 and spent half a million dollars on renovations. He says he is now facing imminent bankruptcy and does not believe there is a state of emergency.

“An emergency in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, is a train coming off of the tracks at noontime on the fourth of July. If they need to commandeer my hotel to help people, I understand it,” Guidi says.

Guidi says he thinks the public should have had input. Polls show that most Americans support a gradual reopening of the economy. Public health experts also warn that easing restrictions too quickly could cause a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Updated 4:38 p.m. May 17, 2020