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Bed and breakfast dream crushed by coronavirus, COVID-19

Valerie Kessler bought a bed and breakfast with her life savings. She had to temporarily close months later due to the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.

LIMERICK, Maine — Editor’s note: You've probably heard the term ‘flattening the curve’ as a way to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means. 

It has always been Valerie Kessler's dream to open a bed and breakfast after watching her parents operate one for years.

"Ever since then, I got the B&B innkeeper fever and I've been saving ever since," said Kessler.

In October, her dream became a reality. She bought Jeremiah Mason House Bed and Breakfast in Limerick with her life savings.

"I was super stoked to start seeing bookings start piling up," said Kessler.

Bookings did pile up, but she had to temporarily close five months later due to COVID-19.

"I was frightened because you know, being a new business owner, you really haven't developed a whole of a heck of a lot of capital and know-how," said Kessler.

She said she has lost more than $8,000 in cancellations.

"Nobody's booking right now because no one knows what's going on," said Kessler.

Governor Janet Mills announced last week, lodging establishments can begin accepting future reservations for stays with an arrival date of June 1 for Maine residents.

Kessler said she doesn't know how many Maine residents will want to stay with her.

"I don't know how many out of state travelers are going to have a location to quarantine in Maine before they come here. So I'll be open, but I probably won't be open fully," said Kessler.

State Representative Heidi Sampson said she is trying to help Kessler and other business owners navigate this situation.

"This is extremely traumatic. For the governor to continue to press down on this 14-day quarantine is really the death knell to our tourist season," said Sampson.

Kessler said the future of her business is unknown. She said right now, she is holding onto hope, remaining as positive as she can.

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