Maine’s tourism industry calls on state to spend $800M to help businesses recover from pandemic

Members of Maine’s hospitality industry are calling on the state to spend $800 million in CARES Act funding to help businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic.Several hospitality groups, including Hospitality Maine, released details of their hospitality, tourism and retail recovery plan Friday morning.The plan calls for $710 million in emergency action grants to be offered to businesses. Those grants would allow businesses to pay for fixed costs like rent, mortgage payments and utilities.Tourism industry leaders want $400 million to go to businesses with 50 current full-time employees or less. Grants would be capped at $50,000.They want $300 million in grant money available for hospitality, retail and tourism businesses that have more than 50 full-time but average fewer than 500 full-time employees a year. Grants would be capped at $500,000.The remaining $10 million would go to nonprofit organizations that service the tourism industry like chambers of commerce or trade organizations.“Due to the devastation the state’s restrictions are causing, this emergency funding is crucial for business survival,” Hospitality Maine CEO Steve Hewins said. “Maine’s hospitality industry is stepping up and acting quickly to help our inns and restaurants in this emergency so they can thrive in the future.”The plan also calls for $15 million to go to the Maine Office of Tourism and $50 million for employee relief.Employees would be able to use the money to cover expenses like child care, rent and health care costs.Tourism industry officials also want $10 million to reinvest into hospitality, retail and tourism-related business start-ups and workforce training costs.Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement in response to the plan that she welcomes proposals regarding the economic toll on businesses and said she will ask her economic recovery committee to taken them into consideration.”The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is also meeting and collaborating with my Administration on potential uses of the coronavirus relief funds, and I hope they will take these proposals into consideration as well,” Mills said.She also added that the proposal highlights the need of the federal government to provide more aid to states.”As the COVID-19 pandemic affects every part of our economy in every region and every state in the nation, this aid will be crucial in jumpstarting a broader economic recovery, and I know Maine’s Congressional Delegation will continue to fight for it,” Mills said.She also defended the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors and alternative unveiled this week that allows visitors to certify that they have recently tested negative for the virus.In order to avoid quarantining for 14 days, as of June 26, visitors states outside of New Hampshire and Vermont will have to show that they have tested negative for COVID-19 no later than 72 hours before they arrive in Maine. Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont are exempt from the testing and 14-day quarantine rule, Mills said, since those states have a similar prevalence of COVID-19 compared to Maine.”I can think of nothing more devastating than an outbreak or resurgence of this deadly untreatable virus during the height of tourism season. Nothing would be worse for our economy and for the tourism industry, in particular. I want visitors, staff and the public to know that they are protected by every means possible,” Mills said.Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont may stay at Maine lodging establishments in Maine beginning Friday.

Members of Maine’s hospitality industry are calling on the state to spend $800 million in CARES Act funding to help businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Several hospitality groups, including Hospitality Maine, released details of their hospitality, tourism and retail recovery plan Friday morning.

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The plan calls for $710 million in emergency action grants to be offered to businesses. Those grants would allow businesses to pay for fixed costs like rent, mortgage payments and utilities.

Tourism industry leaders want $400 million to go to businesses with 50 current full-time employees or less. Grants would be capped at $50,000.

They want $300 million in grant money available for hospitality, retail and tourism businesses that have more than 50 full-time but average fewer than 500 full-time employees a year. Grants would be capped at $500,000.

The remaining $10 million would go to nonprofit organizations that service the tourism industry like chambers of commerce or trade organizations.

“Due to the devastation the state’s restrictions are causing, this emergency funding is crucial for business survival,” Hospitality Maine CEO Steve Hewins said. “Maine’s hospitality industry is stepping up and acting quickly to help our inns and restaurants in this emergency so they can thrive in the future.”

The plan also calls for $15 million to go to the Maine Office of Tourism and $50 million for employee relief.

Employees would be able to use the money to cover expenses like child care, rent and health care costs.

Tourism industry officials also want $10 million to reinvest into hospitality, retail and tourism-related business start-ups and workforce training costs.

Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement in response to the plan that she welcomes proposals regarding the economic toll on businesses and said she will ask her economic recovery committee to taken them into consideration.

“The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is also meeting and collaborating with my Administration on potential uses of the coronavirus relief funds, and I hope they will take these proposals into consideration as well,” Mills said.

She also added that the proposal highlights the need of the federal government to provide more aid to states.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic affects every part of our economy in every region and every state in the nation, this aid will be crucial in jumpstarting a broader economic recovery, and I know Maine’s Congressional Delegation will continue to fight for it,” Mills said.

She also defended the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors and alternative unveiled this week that allows visitors to certify that they have recently tested negative for the virus.

In order to avoid quarantining for 14 days, as of June 26, visitors states outside of New Hampshire and Vermont will have to show that they have tested negative for COVID-19 no later than 72 hours before they arrive in Maine.

Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont are exempt from the testing and 14-day quarantine rule, Mills said, since those states have a similar prevalence of COVID-19 compared to Maine.

“I can think of nothing more devastating than an outbreak or resurgence of this deadly untreatable virus during the height of tourism season. Nothing would be worse for our economy and for the tourism industry, in particular. I want visitors, staff and the public to know that they are protected by every means possible,” Mills said.

Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont may stay at Maine lodging establishments in Maine beginning Friday.