Maine officials ramp up coronavirus-related business citations in ‘super-spreader’ wedding aftermath

Authorities in Maine have issued over a dozen citations to businesses in noncompliance with coronavirus restrictions since late August, marking a rush from just two since the pandemic began, according to a news outlet.

The Portland Press Herald/Sunday Telegram reported 14 “imminent health citations,” penalizing businesses for dismissing preventative measures, including social distancing and wearing of masks. If the business violates the citation within 30 days, the state then issues a temporary license suspension, per the report.

The outlet reportedly obtained state health inspection program records, which revealed temporary suspension of food and beverage licenses for two businesses.

Authorities in Maine have issued over a dozen citations to businesses in noncompliance with coronavirus restrictions since late August, marking a rush from just two since the pandemic began, according to a news outlet. (iStock)

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Dana Connors, president and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, reportedly spoke in defense of most Maine businesses.

“Maine businesses have done an incredible job of addressing their responsibilities and recognizing the role they play for the state,” he told the outlet. “Those that don’t are the exception and not the rule. I think businesses have stepped up and taken this on with tremendous responsibility, and I find it hard to be convinced otherwise.”

The increase in citations follows a wedding reception in August at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, which has been tied to over 270 confirmed coronavirus cases and eight deaths as of Saturday, per the Associated Press.

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The Maine Department of Health and Human Services reinstated the business license of the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket after it was revoked two days prior.

DHHS spokeswoman Jackie Farwell reportedly said the recent uptick in enforcement is unsurprising with the requirements in place from the pandemic.

“In recent weeks, HIP (the health inspection program) has continued to respond to complaints and taken appropriate action following investigation when compliance is not achieved,” Farwell told the Press Herald/Sunday Telegram. “HIP takes repeated lack of compliance seriously and will continue to encourage compliance but take enforcement actions when appropriate to protect public health and safety.”

The Maine outlet interviewed a number of the cited businesses.

Meanwhile, Tyrone Agro, owner of Bru-Thru Coffee Shack told the outlet he thinks masks are a joke. (iStock)

Meanwhile, Tyrone Agro, owner of Bru-Thru Coffee Shack told the outlet he thinks masks are a joke. (iStock)

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One restaurant owner, Bailey Odum of Rick’s Cafe, reportedly said kitchen staff would not be required to wear a face shield and mask, though the establishment closed after Labor Day weekend because staff and management were tired out.

Meanwhile, Tyrone Agro, owner of Bru-Thru Coffee Shack, told the outlet he thinks masks are a joke.

“We all thought it was a joke,” he said. “We still think it is a joke.”

Some business owners were frustrated by the anonymous complaints made to the state. One owner theorized a business competitor could have made the complaint, and Agro deemed it unfair how a small number out of 45,000 guests served could submit anonymous complaints.

Agro reportedly said masks wouldn’t have made an impact in his small-sized coffee shack and the staff mostly consisted of family.

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