The Maine Brewers' Guild, the trade association representing nearly every brewery in the state, is challenging the methodology that will allow restaurants to reopen June 1 but require bars and breweries to wait another month, even if they have ample outdoor seating for customers.
Executive Director Sean Sullivan says the reopening plan proposed by the state is not based in science and does not take public health and safety into account. Instead, Sullivan says, it is an arbitrary approach related to liquor license classification.
"One of our brewers basically posed a question. They said, 'how is possible that a small, indoors-only restaurant was able to open on June 1 where my business is across the street with thousands of square feet and outdoor service area, and I can't open til July 1 and someone's telling me it's because of public safety?' It just doesn't add up."
Sullivan says in Vermont, New Hampshire and the city of Boston, officials have taken steps to prioritize opening businesses with outdoor seating. In addition, he points out that recently released guidelines from the CDC make no distinction between bars and restaurants.
Brewers have offered up individual plans and checklists for reopening in an effort to persuade the state that they could safely open in the same way as Vermont and New Hampshire allow, but Sullivan says that so far they've been rebuffed.
The Guild says it condemns illegal behavior and does not support members who reopen in violation of the law.
A spokesperson for Gov. Janet Mills could not be immediately reached for comment.