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Joker's in Westbrook to close after 27 years, citing COVID-19 restrictions

President Jim Grattelo put much of the blame on Governor Janet Mills and the restrictions her administration has implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Credit: NCM

WESTBROOK, Maine — In a press release Thursday, Joker's Family Fun and Games announced that it is closing its doors after 27 years in Westbrook.

President Jim Grattelo put much of the blame on Governor Janet Mills and the restrictions her administration has implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is impossible to run a business designed for 350 people, limit it to under 50, effectively running at 16.5% of operation and then try to space out 70 arcade games and move all seating 6 feet apart," Grattelo wrote. "This decision didn't come lightly as we spent days trying various layouts. Joker's wouldn't be the same and the electric atmosphere would no longer be fun with the play gym closed and 50% of games and dining tables removed. In addition it would be impossible to keep the entire operation sanitized, under the 5 page guidelines after each child's use."

Grattelo said he finds some of the new requirements "simply impossible."

"Businesses are closing everyday and detailed micromanaged rules are being imposed that simply defy logic," he wrote. "Then the addition of delaying the starting dates after businesses getting ready to open continues the uncertainty of survival."

Mills responded to Grattelo's comments in the following statement sent to NEWS CENTER Maine:

The COVID-19 virus has affected every part of our economy in every region and every state in the nation. Like many other states, Maine has had to address the spread of this dangerous virus by restricting gatherings and limiting public-facing businesses, especially those that attract large groups in spaces that do not allow for social distancing as recommended by state and national public health experts. It saddens the Governor that some businesses are closing. Every Governor wants a strong, thriving economy, and no Governor has wanted to place limits on business operations. But they have had to do so to protect the health and safety of their people. It is also important to note that every other New England State maintains stricter rules for restaurants than are currently set for most of Maine. The Governor will continue to pursue a gradual reopening of Maine’s economy that balances public health with the challenges faced by Maine businesses. The success of these efforts to date, based on science and medical expertise, is demonstrated by our low number of cases per capita as compared to other states.

Grattelo said the restrictions left him with no choice, adding that he's proud of the reputation Joker's built over the past 27 years.

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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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