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More Maine restaurants plan to defy Governor Janet Mills’ coronavirus restrictions and reopen

Following the lead of Sunday River Brewing Co., Red Maple Inn and Bald Mountain Camps Resort say they are reopening.

MAINE, USA — Two Guilford and Oquossoc businesses are the latest to defy Governor Janet Mills’ orders and reopen their doors to the public. Red Maple Inn said on Facebook, “enough is enough” and they would open at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and Bald Mountain Camps Resort said their restaurant would open this weekend as well.

On Friday, Sunday River Brewing Co. opened, and hundreds showed up in support. The scene at the Bethel restaurant was crowded for much of the day, with full parking lots and lines of people waiting to get a seat.

The state health and liquor inspectors revoked both of the Brewing Co.’s licenses later that evening. Owner Rick Savage said he would continue to operate, but late Friday afternoon, Savage posted on the restaurant's Facebook page that Sunday River brewing Co. was closed until further notice.

RELATED: Maine Governor Janet Mills' administration revokes Sunday River Brewing Co. license; owner closes restaurant

On Friday, Oxford County Sheriff's Chief Deputy James Urquhart told NEWS CENTER Maine several agencies were also monitoring surrounding areas that may try to mimic what’s being attempted in Bethel.

According to the Red Maple Inn Facebook page, the Sheriff has ‘forewarned’ the restaurant the state would take their license.

“I am not promising anything,” the Red Maple Inn wrote in a post. “But I have been forewarned from the sheriff that they will take our license. Per the Attorney General. Well I want the Govenor [sic] to come do this. I support Paul LePage to lead us.”

The Inn’s original post on Friday with its announcement has more than 500 comments and 1,000 shares. They also gave out Mills’ phone number, as Savage did on Fox News Thursday night, which has since been disconnected.

RELATED: Maine restaurant owner tells Fox News he plans to defy government orders, open May 1

Bald Mountain Camps Resort in Oquossoc said its restaurant will be open from 4-8 p.m. this weekend for takeout and reservation-only dine-in service.

In a Facebook post on Saturday morning, they said, “Come on down today from 4-8, check out our new menu, get a steamed lobster, or Prime rib! Call for take out, or call for a dine in reservation. See you soon! Be well and stay healthy friends!”

Bald Mountain Camps Resort owner Stephen Philbrick told NEWS CENTER Maine he got a call from the state liquor board around 10 a.m. on Saturday, saying if he didn't close they would take his license. 

Philbrick said he plans to still move forward with reopening in some fashion, but for now he says they are back to takeout only, following the state's guidelines.

"I don't think we're listened to, it's that simple," Philbrick said.

Philbrick said he applauds Savage's tenacity and respects and understands his actions in Bethel on Friday, but says he plans to take a softer approach. 

Maine entered the first stage of Mills' phased approach to reopen the state's economy on Friday. Restaurants are part of stage two, with a tentative reopening date of June 1. Under Phase 1 of the Governor's plan, health care from Maine-licensed providers, personal services like barbershops and hair salons, drive-in services, and outdoor recreation are some of the businesses that are able to reopen beginning Friday. They must meet state-mandated safety precautions.

RELATED: Read Gov. Mills' full address to Mainers as stage one goes into effect

RELATED: Read Maine Phase 1 COVID-19 Prevention Checklist to help business reopen with reduced coronavirus restrictions

The Oxford County Sheriff's Office released a statement in response to the situation Friday at Sunday River Brewing Co.

"As Sheriff, I swore an oath to uphold the constitutional rights of our citizens, as well as enforce the law," Sheriff Christopher Wainwright said in the statement.

Wainwright wrote, "As in any situation where there is a potential or alleged violation of law, which includes violations of the Executive Orders, for which law enforcement is obligated to enforce, we will investigate reports of violations and take the appropriate action indicated by our investigative findings or refer the complaint to the appropriate state or local administrative licensing agency."

RELATED: 'Frightened to death': Maine business owners to swarm Augusta Saturday to protest Governor Janet Mills' coronavirus restrictions

RELATED: Personal services businesses, including salons and barber shops, reopen

RELATED: Republicans and some business owners try to pressure Gov. Mills to change plan


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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