How do You Re-open a Tourist Town?

After a pandemic—or in the midst of one? Obviously the answer is very carefully. I grew up in a summer tourist town, York, Maine, and have lived in a seasonal–going on all-year tourist town, Salem, Massachusetts, for several decades, so the question is very interesting to me, and obviously far more than interesting to the residents and business owners of both communities. I’m in York now, so I thought I would start with some observations of what is going on here, and then follow up with Salem (whose many restaurants started opening up yesterday—in the streets) when I return in a few weeks. The policy in Maine is self-quarantine for two weeks for all people coming from outside: I am following that policy I believe: I came up with two weeks’ worth of groceries and supplies and am going to no public places, with the exception of parks and walkways near our home which are open. Self-quarantining in Massachusetts allowed daily exercise as well as essential shopping, so I was assuming that the former is allowed here: I found some contradictory information, but if I am the wrong let me know, Maine authorities! I stay far away from everyone on my daily walks and wear my mask at all times. We have the perfect situation here, as we have a big family house where my husband, stepson and I are staying, and my parents–who are Maine residents—are in their condominium less than a mile away. So if we run out of anything they can go and get it for us! The one time I was walking in rather public place, with my Maine parents and mask on, they insisted on going to the walk-in counter of Rick’s All-Season Restaurant for Bloody Mary’s: I stayed far away from the window and we imbibed at home. There is an ice-cream take-out window in Salem, but I don’t know if we have a Bloody Mary one—-yet.

IMG_20200607_120623_791The Take-Out Window at Rick’s Restaurant in York Village

I was quite accustomed to seeing masks on the streets of Salem as well as inside public places: here in Maine there seems to be less mask-wearing outside, but as I haven’t been inside anywhere but our home I’m not sure what’s going on there. Obviously Maine is a much larger state than Massachusetts with a much smaller population, so there is less concern about population density: in York the population typically swells in the summer, but with this two-week self-quarantine policy in effect I would guess that this would not be the case this summer. That is the pressure point. York is a really large town, geographically, with a lot of public outdoor space: three major beaches, a mountain with trails, parks, ponds, pathways—lots of room for social distancing. The beaches are open for active use: no sunbathing, but walking, swimming, fishing are allowed. In York Harbor, where we live, there are two coastal paths: the Cliff Walk and the Fisherman’s Walk. I grew up walking on the former in four seasons: but there have been some access issues over the past decade or so, and the owner of one abutting property has built a fence to block pedestrian access to part of the walk. It has been Covid-closed, but the nearby Fisherman’s Walk is open so that is where I will be taking most of my harbor walks. As you can see, it’s lovely, and very uncrowded: we’ll see what happens as June progresses.








20200609_101139Fisherman’s Walk, York Harbor, Maine, with a new house (next-to-last photo) rising over the Harbor.

11 responses to “How do You Re-open a Tourist Town?

  • Nancy

    What a beautiful town! Nice place to self-quarantine!

  • Helen Breen

    Hi Donna,

    Glad that you and your family are vacationing in Maine and that you provided details about the self-quarantining required in that state. I presume that many of these restrictions will be lifted as the height of the summer season approaches.

    In last Sunday’s Boston Globe there was a piece describing Covid regiments in the six New England states. None is the same. For example, in New Hampshire hotel staff must ask if the guest has “self quarantined” at home for two weeks before coming to the Granite State. No proof necessary.

    We have been thinking of returning to the Eagle Mountain House in Jackson, NH in late summer. When I read all their antiseptic protocols on line, the prospect didn’t sound so appealing. I shared your blog with my cousin who plans a stay at the Stage Neck Inn in York (big bucks) next month. She will be monitoring the situation beforehand.

    Best for the summer. Who knows what situation awaits us in academia in the fall???

    • daseger

      My parents’ condominium is at Stage Neck so I’ll see if the know anything about the Inn—at least the beach is right there, but no sunbathing and we all know how cold the water is in Maine! Uncertainty reigns; hard to make plans.

  • Eilene Lyon

    In our tourist town here in Colorado, they’re asking everyone to wear masks on public places, but there’s no quarantine for people arriving from elsewhere. It does concern me, especially since we get many visitors from Texas where the overall vivid response has been lax with a resulting high incidence of infection. Plus Colorado’s overall rate has been high (though not too scary in Durango).

    • daseger

      Eilene, you have good reason to be concerned! I was thinking about you when I watched the news this morning and saw the Texas cases reached a record high and appear to be climbing……obviously it would be great if we had a national policy to avoid these regional threats—and lots more testing, of course—-but that is unfortunately not the case.

      • Eilene Lyon

        My husband suggested we go out to dinner, but I’m too leery with all these tourists here. I don’t see how you can allow people to come in and force them into quarantine for two weeks. Nor can you get them to present some evidence they self-quarantined before arriving here. It’s just not workable. You have to close the community to outsiders entirely. I don’t think it’s going to ever happen. There’s no political will. I have do what I have to do to stay safe.

  • Brian Bixby

    Europe’s having a time of this, too, to judge from the media. Greece just opened up for tourists, but not tourists from the U.K., which has one of the highest infection rates on the continent (if we can call an island part of its adjacent continent).

  • If You Build it, They will Come - streetsofsalem

    […] 2020: at the beginning of the summer, I was up in my hometown of York, Maine, so I wrote about its opening in the midst of Covid with every intention of writing a comparative “bookend” post on […]


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