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Portland Councilors Agree To Ease Some COVID-19 Restrictions On Businesses

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Two pedestrians cross Congress Street in nearly-deserted downtown Portland, Maine, just hours before a stay-at-home order went into effect on March 25, 2020.

Portland City Councilors unanimously agreed Monday night to temporarily ease some restrictions on businesses deemed to be non-essential under the city's COVID-19 stay-at-home order. On Friday the city issued a press release indicating that it would permit non-essential business activity such as shipping, no-contact delivery and curbside pick-up in order to fulfill online and phone orders until the City Council makes changes to the stay-at-home order.  

At Monday's nights emergency workshop, Mayor Kate Snyder said the action was taken because there have been varying interpretations of what's allowed under the local order.  Several councilors acknowledged that while some businesses have been complying with city orders, others have not.

Snyder says she continues to see the emergency order in terms of public health. "That being said, I don't think anyone of us has ever lost track of the impact that these actions that we're taking, are having, on our local economy, our national economy and our global economy, and I think they're impacting everybody."

Councilor Jill Duson noted that when Portland ratified it's order, Gov. Janet Mills hadn't yet released hers, so Portland's order was more restrictive than what eventually came down from Augusta.  

"These are emergency actions," Duson said, "and we have had to make and remake these decisions based on the data available. And so our order has to be open to changing, as the governor's order has changed."

Councilors agreed to let the allowances continue until the current order expires Monday. During its regular meeting Monday evening, the City Council will consider renewing the stay-at-home order.