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Keep ME Open: Nail salons, gyms, and bars can now open in 13 of Maine's 16 counties

More small businesses in every county except York, Cumberland and Androscoggin were able to open up Friday with coronavirus, COVID-19 restrictions still in place.

TOPSHAM, Maine — If you need to hit the gym, have your nails done or just grab a drink, well now you can in most Maine counties. 

With the exception of York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties, gyms, nail salons, tattoo and piercing parlors, bars and tasting rooms can open with added precautions in place starting Friday.

Bars and tasting rooms can only offer outside service though.

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Most of these businesses were supposed to be able to open up on June 1 under Stage 2 of Gov. Mills’ phased reopening plan but were pushed back over concerns of spread because of close in-person contact. 

Reservations immediately started pouring in at Spirit Nails in Topsham when they opened Friday morning. 

"The phone has been ringing off the hook," Debbie Doughty-Mendes said. "It's good to be back!"

The salon, which had been closed for three months, is now appointment only with a fee added to their service. 

There are also plastic barriers between clients and the manicurists at every station and masks must be worn at all times. 

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"This is not normal, but everything else is almost normal," Doughty-Mendes said. 

From painting nails to pumping iron, CrossFit 321 opened its gym back up Friday. 

Owner Shawn Thiboutot said while it is good to be back, they lost almost 1/3 of their clients during the shutdown. 

"The longer you're closed the more people trickle off," he said. 

Some are trickling back in though. The gym's trainers are offering classes both in-person and online to try and retain as many people as possible. 

People must be 14-feet apart while working out which limits how many people can attend each class at the facility. 

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"I'd like the flexibility to have more people in here but I'll take what we can get right now," Thiboutot said. 

Other places just are not ready to open yet. 

"It's very difficult," Ryan Atwood at The Duck Pub and Restaurant said. 

The restaurant at the Highland Green Golf Club has remained closed even as the course is able to open again because it does not have outdoor dining space. 

Even for the pub to open, guests would have to eat outside. 

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"That's our biggest thing here is that this is such a small intimate space that guidelines that have been put forth by the state just aren't practical for us here," Atwood said. 

A new outdoor patio is in the works, according to Atwood. They hope to have it completed by July 4. 

All businesses that choose to reopen are required to abide by the latest COVID-19 Prevention Checklists.

For many, that means added cost, added time, and less business.

"Just because we're opened doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet, but this is a start," Thiboutot said.

You can find local small businesses open near you by going to the Open Near Me section of our website.

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