Virus Outbreak Maine

Visitors walk by a souvenir t-shirt shop June 23, 2020, in Kennebunkport, Maine. The coronavirus pandemic has hurt many of Maine's businesses that rely on just a few months in the summer for most of their annual revenue.

(The Center Square) – Maine, which is entering what traditionally would be its bustling tourism season, has a mixed economic picture amid the coronavirus, findings from a recent economic report suggest.

Researchers with personal finance website WalletHub recently conducted a state-by-state study of the economic impacts from COVID-19. Big picture, Maine ranked No. 37 of states, in terms of the exposure its economy has had on the lockdowns that have been imposed to contain the virus.

A deeper glimpse into the numbers, however, provided a mixed picture. Across the U.S., Maine ranked No. 4, in terms of the hit its gross domestic product has taken since March.

But employment figures were on the opposite end of the spectrum. The analysis asserted employment within the industries most affected by COVID-19 lockdowns was less impactful in Maine, compared to other areas of the country. The state ranked No. 46 in the metric.

Maine’s GDP ranked high in the report because several specific industries – retail, in addition to accommodation and food services – account for a sizable amount of the state’s economy.

Retail, as a category, was highly impacted within Maine, ranking No. 2 across the country. The category of accommodations and food services – a descriptor that encompasses lodging and other tourism-related amenities – ranked No. 4 within the state.

The results come as Democrat Gov. Janet Mills continues to phase in her Keep Maine Healthy plan as the summer season gets underway.

In a June 12 radio address, Mills acknowledged the pandemic has been – and likely will continue to – impact Maine’s overall economy as the summer months continue.

“There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has loomed large over our tourism industry – an industry that is already severely affected by travel restrictions on Canadian visitors, by a downturn in the economy nationally and by a decrease in consumer spending across the country,” Mills said.

Mills, who extended Maine’s state of civil emergency through July 10, has outlined a series of provisions for out-of-state travelers who want to come to the state this summer.

Lodging establishments were allowed to begin accepting out-of-state guests outside the immediate New England region beginning June 26. Dine-in service, meanwhile, has been permissible in certain areas of the state since mid-June. But a plan to resume indoor bar service July 1 has been put on the back burner.

Mills’ rulings come as some state lawmakers have been calling for looser restrictions in the hopes of resuscitating the economy.

In a June 19 radio address, Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake implored politicians on both sides of the political aisle to come together and strike a balance in mitigating the virus’ impact and preserving the economy.

“To be sure, the cause of this unfortunate collapse in our tourism economy is a worldwide pandemic, but that unavoidable situation has been unnecessarily worsened by a set of priorities that are far too restrictive,” Timberlake said.

From his perspective, Timberlake said Maine should be adopting policies that are “more in line” with those in place in surrounding states.

“Maine must focus its efforts on keeping everyone as safe as we can, while also recognizing the importance of owners and workers of small businesses, whose economic reality will not survive the loss of entire summer season,” Timberlake said.