Supporting Waldo County’s small businesses is more important now than ever

By Sen. Erin Herbig | Jul 01, 2020

These past few months have certainly tested our businesses, families and communities and will probably continue to do so. From what I have seen and experienced, it has also been a time of remarkable resilience in our communities. People have come together to support each other, from neighbors picking up groceries and prescriptions for those who can’t leave their homes, to demonstrations of appreciation for local health care workers, to grants that support our small businesses.

Students connected with their teachers in virtual classrooms over video conference and celebrated local high school graduations at the municipal airport and roadside in our rural communities. Businesses have pivoted their resources to meet the moment, from making masks to shifting to curbside pickup.

Now that we understand more about how to limit the spread of the virus and have more resources to protect ourselves, we have reopened our communities in a way that lets us support local businesses and workers while still prioritizing public health.

In Waldo County, as in all 16 counties now, restaurants are open for indoor dining services, gyms and salons can service customers, bars and tasting rooms have resumed service outdoors, and customers can browse retail shops. These businesses made many sacrifices over the last few months, so as we enter stores and restaurants again, it is important to respect the protocols they have put in place, adhere to public health best practices and give them the best chance at success.

A COVID-19 infection in a store or restaurant could be devastating for a business that is just opening its doors again, so it’s important for us as customers to act responsibly and stay home if we are feeling sick, or if we were in close contact with a sick person. Also note that through a partnership with IDEXX Labs, testing in Maine will quadruple in July and will allow more people to get tested without a doctor’s note.

Research shows that one of the best tools we have for limiting the spread of the virus is to wear a mask or a face shield when we are indoors or close to other people. When you are inside a business, please also give employees space and time to perform the extra sanitation duties we may not be used to seeing.

The Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce is updating its Support Local directory with information about businesses as they reopen. Check the list for updates regularly so that you know when your favorite shop or restaurant is open again, or so you know what to expect when you show up. Many stores have outside retail or dining options.

In Belfast, 15 restaurants are offering curbside dining as part of Curbside Belfast. They include Alexia’s Pizza, Bay Wrap, Chase’s Daily, Darby’s Restaurant & Pub, Delvino’s Grill & Pasta House, Downshift Coffee, Front Street Pub, Harborwalk Restaurant, Marshall Wharf Brewing Company, The Moody Dog, Nautilus, Neighborhood, Perennial Cider Bar & Farm Kitchen, Rollie’s Bar & Grill and Traci’s Diner. Other restaurants are offering curbside pickup or takeout that remain options for those who still might not feel comfortable eating or shopping indoors.

The Department of Economic and Community Development has checklists on its website with recommendations for businesses of all types to keep people safe. It is worth taking a look, even as a customer, so you understand how much work these businesses are doing to making sure we can frequent them safely.

This is an adjustment for our businesses, so please be kind and patient when you are out and about. I am proud of how our community has responded to this crisis, and I know we will continue to do what is best for all of us so that we can support our small businesses and our local economy.

If I can ever be of help to you or your family, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Erin.Herbig@legislature.maine.gov or by calling 287-1515.

Erin Herbig, D-Dist. 11, is completing her first term in the Maine Senate and is city manager of Belfast.

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