LEWISTON, Maine — Businesses small and large across Maine are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak: restaurants, bars, breweries, flower shops, and retail stores are just some of the examples of businesses affected by the pandemic.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills issued an Executive Order on Wednesday that banned gatherings of 10 or more people as well as dine-in service at restaurants and bars. Mills also "strongly urged" non-essential public-facing businesses to close for the next two weeks. Examples include gyms, hair salons, shopping malls, and casinos.

“I do not take these steps lightly. Maine’s small businesses and their workers are the backbone of our economy, and I understand that these actions will not only impact them, they will also disrupt the lives of Maine people,” Mills said in a statement. “However, COVID-19 continues to spread across Maine and more aggressive action is required to mitigate that spread and to protect the health and welfare of Maine people."

“Two weeks of no income or reduced income threatens the survival of our local businesses,” Mayor Cayer said in hi scall to action. “In fact, right now, our community is at risk of losing 40% to 50% of its businesses.”

This week emergency legislation was passed that included measures to help small businesses as well as ease the restrictions of filing for unemployment, to help those affected by the coronavirus closures. In a three-day period, the Maine Dept. of Labor saw nearly 5,000 unemployment claim filings, the single-highest weekly total since the Great Recession.

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Mayor Cayer is calling on the Lewiston community to help in their own way, though.

“From flower shops to variety stores and from retailers to service providers, they need us today,” he writes. “If you prefer to support them remotely, you may purchase gift cards online or by phone.  Each transaction makes an immediate impact for our local businesses who have given so much to this City.  Also, one innovative way you can double your help is to purchase a gift card that can be donated to an area non-profit.”

You can read the full call to action here:

The mayor is also calling on the city's larger businesses and institutions such as Bates College and Central Maine Medical Center to find innovative ways to shift purchasing to local small businesses. 

"Residents and larger businesses, if you can show your commitment to our community during this difficult time by buying something from a Lewiston establishment, it will make a difference!"

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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