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As many restaurants in 12 out of Maine’s 16 counties prepare to reopen for dine-in services on Monday, customers from across the state expressed varying levels of apprehension about it.
Some, such as Mark Paulsen. of Newcastle, said the reopening of restaurants in all counties but Androscoggin, Cumberland, Penobscot and York is still premature, especially since testing is not yet widespread in the state.
“I’m not comfortable with doing it yet,” said Paulsen. “I think it’s important for us to be safe, and I feel like it’s a little too soon, to be honest. I think I would like to see more testing in general, statewide. I think that’s the pivotal thing.”
Ross Faneu, of Lincolnville, said it’s unlikely he’ll dine at a restaurant for a long time. The idea of sitting in a room with others— some of whom may not be as careful as he is — is not appealing right now in the least. He has gotten takeout from the Lincolnville General Store during the pandemic.
“I’m 76 years old. I have a compromised immune system. Basically, staying alive means not exposing myself unnecessarily at all,” he said. “Until there’s something like a reasonably effective vaccine, I’m just not going to be exposing myself that way.”
Others plan to take all the necessary precautions and re-enter dining rooms sometime this coming week.
“Having shopped at supermarkets and having seen the very full parking lots at places like Lowe’s, I think we will be as safe or safer in a restaurant as we are in those venues,” said Clare Payne, of Brooksville, who said she’s not sure where she’s going to eat, but said she hopes to go out soon.
“We may go to Gaylen’s in Bar Harbor on Monday,” said Caroline Martin, of Ellsworth. “I think all of this is a little overblown, but I certainly have a mask and I’ll wear it. We don’t have any active cases in Hancock County right now. I can’t be paranoid about everything.”
Barbara Mogel, of Rockland, said that since she’s in remission from lupus, it’s unlikely she’ll be dining inside anytime soon. Instead, she said she’s been doing takeout once a week since everything started in order to support her favorite local restaurants, and she plans to take advantage of outdoor dining as it becomes available.
“If Rockland can pull off this Main Street closing to traffic for outdoor seating, I’ll certainly be doing that,” said Mogel. “That’s my strategy for the summer.”
In normal times, Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor goes out to eat nearly every night of the week, because she likes the social environment of restaurants. So when eateries open their doors again, she’s planning to be there — with some cautions and caveats.
“I’m going to look at it individually,” she said. “I will only go to restaurants that I used to go to before the pandemic, because I know them well.”
Williams thinks that Mount Desert Island restaurateurs want to keep people safe, but some may be limited by the physical realities of their spaces.
“I think that some of them have the ability because of the size of the restaurant or their layout to do social distancing,” she said. “Others may not. I will go to the ones that I think are and will be doing the other requirements, too.”
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