ELLSWORTH, Maine — On Monday, restaurants in Ellsworth, along with every restaurant in Hancock County and 11 other counties in Maine, were able to reopen after the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Helen's and Governor's wasted no time opening their doors for customers as they try to make up on some lost revenue. But for other restaurants, they decided to wait it out.
In the coming days and weeks, other business owners will have to make the decision to reopen and it's not as easy of a decision as you may think.
Gretchen Wilson is the Executive director of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce. She said businesses are awaiting potential new challenges when they reopen.
“The liability of bringing our employees back, the liability of guests in our dining rooms, in our stores, in our hotels, campgrounds," Wilson said.
To help answer common liability and legal questions, the Chamber parented with Rudman Winchel Counselors at Law to help assist local business owners.
“Many of those employees are making more money on unemployment," Carin Sychterz the Business Development Manager of the firm said.
"How do I bring these people back and try to be really mindful that these employees probably are making more money but at the same time they need these employees to come back to work.”
Getting employees to come back to work, and keeping them safe was an issue covered during Thursday's virtual seminar.
Anne-Marie Storey is a partner with the firm and helped run the event. She said Maine business owners are going to have to take part in a balancing act.
“I need to get the work done and yet I want to make people safe in the workspace," Storey said. "Because you do want to protect your employees and the public, yet you need to find a way to make it feasible at the same time.”
Storey went on to say that business owners are entitled to enforce the Governor's orders including maintaining social distancing guidelines and wearing facemasks.
For customers that don't comply with the orders, they're not hurting themselves.
“The only people you’re hurting in that kind of response is that business and those employees," Wilson said.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
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