Review and Outlook from CEO

Two weeks ago on April 17, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson asked HospitalityMaine to provide the phased plan for restarting Maine's restaurants and hotels. 

We provided that document on April 22. The plan is very specific. It's sourced from the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, our counterparts at associations across the US, especially New Hampshire, with whom we coordinated our approach. 

Finally, it was vetted through seven drafts with our board and executive committee.
It is presently under review by the public health team led by Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. 

In the meantime, I’ve had multiple one-on-one meetings with Commissioner Johnson to provide her with input and to keep my eye on the process. 

We are awaiting their review, which is expected soon, after which we will have a final opportunity for feedback. Assuming we are in agreement, the Governor will release the hotel and restaurant checklists early next week.

Confusion arose at the Governor's April 28th press conference, when two strictures about hospitality were included that were not in our plan, nor had they been part of any discussions. These were the hard dates for restarting restaurants on June 1 and hotels on July 1 and — the biggest headline and headache — the requirement to quarantine out-of-state visitors for 14 days upon arrival.
Over the past three days we have received hundreds of emails from members. Most were trying to understand what this means to them with emotions ranging from anger to disbelief to fear and dismay. The quarantine on out-of-state visitors is completely unworkable and this has caused people to view the summer season as dead, with their employee’s jobs and the business itself in jeopardy.
Now, the better news :

1) I have confirmed that hotels may continue to take reservations now and into the future without restrictions, other than what the governor has announced – essential workers only in May, Maine residents only in June, and all visitors from July onward. Also, keep in mind there is some flexibility built into these dates and it is possible the phases may be shortened. This includes both the hotel and restaurant phases. Still working on this.

2) Evaluations are underway today on a promising new testing protocol to remove the need for a quarantine . I cannot announce it as final, but I am very encouraged. This is the number one objective right now and we are hopeful it can be included in the launch checklist.

3) We will have the final checklist guidelines for both hotels and restaurants early next week .
This is a great way to close out the week.

Please make no mistake, we have a great deal of work ahead of us to bring back employees safely and win back customers. New operating protocols are going to be the key part of this. But I am finally seeing a flickering light at the end of the tunnel and am ‘chomping at the bit’ to pivot toward a successful industry restart.

Steve Hewins
President and CEO