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Maine businesses feel impact of social distancing and shutdowns

Last week, officials announced they would be shutting down non-essential travel between the United States, Canada and Mexico to help slow the spread of Coronavirus.

CALAIS, Maine — Small business owners across the state are dealing with some negative effects of the coronavirus, saying there's a real worry many will be forced to close their doors indefinitely if business doesn't pick up soon.

This is especially true for those businesses that rely heavily on Canadian traffic for income. Last week, officials announced they would be shutting down non-essential travel between the United States, Canada and Mexico to help slow the spread of Coronavirus. 

The decision has some small business owners in Calais, located just outside one of Maine's border crossings with Canada, wondering if they will be able to remain open long-term.

"In the last week, I haven't had any sales," Danielle Smith said. "This is going to impact me more than I had ever imagined."

Smith owns Rachel Ashley Jewelers on Main Street in Calais. She says she is the only jeweler in a 90-mile radius and that more than 60-percent of her business comes from Canadians. Despite little to no foot traffic, the small business owner is choosing to keep her doors open until she is told she can't

"I’m taking the social distancing very seriously, but also on the other hand, I have to take my livelihood seriously," Smith said. "This month alone, my sales are down 40 percent."

She's not the only one feeling the impact from the temporary shutout, Crumbs Cafe and Bake Shoppe's owner says they are predicting business to be down 60 percent this month. It's forced them to lay-off their one extra employee helping them this time of year. 

However, both owners say the one thing keeping them going is the support they are receiving from their community. Crumbs' co-owner, Kevin Niles said many people are still buying take-out options from them. It's something Niles and Smith are encouraging others to do to show support their support to small businesses in their area.

"It breaks my heart to think I might not be able to sustain my business that I’ve worked so hard for, that my kids rely on... my family relies on," Smith said. "And I know that everyone in this town is feeling the same way."

NEWS CENTER Maine received this statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding this temporary closure:

The United States is cooperating closely with Canada and Mexico to ensure that North America has a coordinated approach to combating the pandemic caused by the Coronavirus. 

As a result, the United States and Canada have agreed to restrict travel at our land border to essential travel only. We are maintaining cross-border activities with Canada and Mexico that support health security, trade, commerce, supply security, and other essential activities while taking critical steps to protect our citizens and to curb the spread of the virus.  

To safeguard our economic ties, travelers with essential purposes can continue to cross the land border and will be exempt from a self-isolation requirement. In addition, travelers with family care, educational or humanitarian reasons will continue to be unaffected. 

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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