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Old Orchard Beach businesses see dismal turnout on Labor Day they say because of coronavirus

Despite beautiful weather businesses saw a low turnout on Labor Day, much like the summer tourism season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restricted travel.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — Labor Day is considered the unofficial end to summer. 

The last hurrah before vacations end, school starts and fall activities begin.

But this year Labor Day weekend didn't see the crowds Maine is used to.

Due to a COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and restricted travel, the tourism industry in Maine was hit hard this year.

At Old Orchard Beach Labor Day looked a lot different this year.

Not because of bad weather but a pandemic that hit Maine's tourism industry hard.

"I think we're doing the best we can with the situation we had at hand" said Paul Carney who runs Old Orchard Beach Airbrush, a business that has been in Old Orchard Beach for 25 years.

"The 14 day quarantine, whether people did or didn't adhere to it you definitely saw a huge drop in numbers" said Carney.

Less traffic means a huge drop in revenue.

"This year is about half and we're thankful it is half" said Allan Buotte the owner of the Original Pier Fries.

"A lot of people in our industry haven't done half and probably not even close to half so we're doing okay" said Buotte.

Brad Bouthot has worked at Bill's Pizza for 8 years. He says business has been okay but slower than we expected. 

"Usually it's extremely busy especially around lunch time but there is no one in line right now" said Bouthot.

Businesses know things could be worse and they're grateful for the business they have had. 

Credit: NCM

"This is our 4th or 5th time coming here. We always love coming here" said Jeff Klausner.

Klausner and his wife came to Old Orchard Beach from update New York after delaying their trip in June when stricter travel restrictions were in place.

"(we're) Doing it the safe way with masks, hand sanitizer and socially distant."

Also a big blow for businesses in Old Orchard Beach was the Canadian border closed to non essential travel. 

"The loss of Canadians is millions of dollars" said Richard Smith who has owned Richards EZ Parking for 57 years. 

"Look at this, this is a holiday and there is hardly anyone around" said Smith who is retiring after this season. 

Bouthot says tourists have come from states like New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire but it's the loss of their Canadian clientele that hurts the most.

"Not so many Canadians his year, we kind of missed them hope hey come back next year" said Bouthot.

Buotte, who was lucky to have a line outside his business, the Original Piers Fries, is counting on it.

"I think the pent up demand next year if they are able to open up the border this town might be busier than ever."

Fingers crossed the summer of 2021 will be a safe and successful one. 

Tourism in Maine is a six billion dollar industry. Figures will have to be calculated next year to see what kind of damage the pandemic did to the state's economy .

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