PORTLAND, Maine — Portland City Manager Jon Jennings announced Monday that the city is instituting a mandated curfew for establishments where groups gather from 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 17 to 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18 and then daily from 8:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (March 18 - 22).
The decision was made in light of the need to practice social distancing in order to lessen the community spread and flatten the curve of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Any individual or business owner who does not follow the mandatory curfew is at risk of getting fined $500.
The all-day curfew on Tuesday is intended to curb St. Patrick’s Day events and festivities, but take-out and delivery of food is still permitted. City Manager Jon Jennings said he encourages residents to postpone St. Patrick's Day.
The city is also strongly recommending all restaurants close to dine-in customers or dramatically limit the number of customers, and provide takeout or delivery options only for the foreseeable future. While this is the preferable option, the City understands that some restaurants may not be set up to do so.
When asked about the financial strain the curfew could put on local businesses, Jennings said they have not taken the step of fully closing bars and restaurants because the city wants them to be able to still stay open.
Jennings said he has trust in Portland business owners to do the right thing, which is why he said the city did not issue a permanent mandate.
Additionally, the city recommends that all gyms and fitness studios close.
“This is a time of shared sacrifice for all of us, and we must be willing to alter our daily lives for now,” Jennings said in a statement. “We need everyone to take COVID-19 very seriously in order to limit community spread in the greater Portland area and across the state. I understand the very difficult situation this puts our business owners in, but in a global pandemic, it cannot be business as usual. We simply cannot have large gatherings, such as in the Old Port. We need your help in confronting the coronavirus. We will continue to reassess as we go forward and provide updates as they are available.”
“As I said on Friday, I want us to be aggressively cautious in the face of this global pandemic, and as such I’m fully supportive of the measures the City Manager is mandating and recommending in order for us to do what we can to protect our community’s public health,” Portland Mayor Kate Snyder said. “We all have an obligation to do what we can to slow the spread, and thus the impacts of this virus, and this requires us to practice social distancing.”
According to city officials, Portland’s city ordinance (Chapter 2-406) authorizes the City Manager to issue an emergency proclamation when a civil emergency exists. Chapter 2-408 allows for emergency powers to protect life and property, restrict the movement of persons within the city, and other regulations necessary to preserve the public peace, health, and safety.
The city will also delay the deadline for property tax, personal property, and stormwater payments until June 1 with no interest.