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Politics

'It Isn't The Role Of The State' — Protesters Call For Maine To Reopen Businesses

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Robbie Feinberg
/
Maine Public
Protesters outside the Blaine House in Augusta on Monday.

Protesters gathered on the streets and sidewalks outside of the Blaine House in Augusta on Monday to call on the state to relax restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

More than 100 protesters, some standing close together or without masks, came out on foot and by car. Some wore hats and waved flags supporting President Donald Trump and flashed signs with messages such as “Re-open Maine” and “One Size Does Not Fit All.”

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Credit Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public
Protesters outside the Blaine House in Augusta on Monday.

Matt Campbell of Holden says he’s concerned about the economic damage caused by the restrictions and feels the state is overstepping its boundaries by closing all nonessential businesses.

“It isn’t the role of the state to come in and shut down businesses,” he says. “I think protocols can be implemented that would keep safety at the front of mind, and we can resume, to be operating in a free environment.”

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Credit Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public
Protesters outside the State House in Augusta on Monday.

The rally was organized by Republican State Rep. Chris Johansen of Monticello. The recently formed group Mainers Against Excessive Quarantine pushed the event to thousands of followers on social media. The group has a similar name and mission to other organizations that have organized rallies in other states, including Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

In a statement last week, Gov. Janet Mills said that while “our hearts break to see closed storefronts and people struggling to make ends meet because of this crisis,” reopening the state too soon will likely cause another surge in cases and threaten public health and the economy.

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Credit Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public
Protesters outside the Blaine House in Augusta on Monday.

Mills says the state is planning a “phased-in reopening, tailored to the demographics and various economic sectors of our state,” and is working with other governors in the region.

Some recent polls have shown general support amongst voters for maintaining restrictions. A poll released on Sunday found that nearly 60 percent of voters said that they’re more worried that the U.S. will “move too quickly to loosen restrictions” than they are that it will take too long to reopen the economy.

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Credit Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public
Protesters outside the Blaine House in Augusta on Monday.