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Owners of campgrounds and restaurants in southern Maine have sued Gov. Janet Mills for imposing a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers coming here. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to lift the requirement.
Three residents of Maine and New Hampshire also are plaintiffs — they claim the quarantine rule violates their constitutional right to travel freely within the United States.
The lawsuit further alleges that Mills’ plan to allow restaurants and other businesses in 12 rural counties to reopen this month while keeping non-essential business shuttered in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Penobscot and York counties is unlawful discrimination based on where they’re located.
The businesses — Bayley’s Camping Resort, the Little River Bar & Grille and the Seaside Square Cafe, all in Scarborough, and the Little Ossipee Campground in Waterboro — claim that the 14-day quarantine is negatively impacting their businesses.
Between March 16 and May 12, Bayley’s Camping Resort canceled 715 reservations because of the quarantine requirement, according to the lawsuit, which was filed after business hours on Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland. As a result, the business has refunded $153,182 in reservation fees and lost $260,455 in revenue.
Little Ossipee Campground has lost $38,000 in revenue from 10 seasonal campsite cancellations. Revenue there is down by $94,428 this year, the lawsuit said.
“So, although the governor has publicly acknowledged that she lacks the authority to close the Maine border, the quarantine restrictions effectively do just that,” attorneys Gene Libby and Tyler Smith, both of Kennebunk, said in the lawsuit.
This is the third time Mills has been sued in federal court over her restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The first lawsuit was filed by an Orrington church that challenged Mills’ gathering restrictions that shut down in-person church services. It sought a temporary restraining order to hold services in the sanctuary.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, ruled in the governor’s favor on May 9. The church has since appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
The most recent lawsuit is the second filed by business owners. The first was filed May 8 in federal court in Bangor by firms ranging from a construction company to a hair salon who claim their businesses were negatively disrupted by the governor’s shutdown.
U.S. District Judge Lance Walker, a Trump appointee, is hearing both cases filed on behalf of business owners. The campground and restaurant case is on a fast track and a decision should be issued by the end of next week.
Attorney General Aaron Frey’s previous statement that said the governor’s orders were written to comply with the Constitution applies to the most recent lawsuit as well, said Marc Malon, spokesman for the Maine attorney general’s office, which must defend Mills.
“The executive orders and the restarting plan at issue in this lawsuit were carefully crafted and have been reviewed and updated in order to protect Mainers’ health during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Frey said. “We will represent the governor and will vigorously defend the constitutionality of the challenged executive orders and restarting plan and the governor’s authority to protect public health.”
Watch: Who can make reservations at Maine hotels next month?