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Southern Maine was most affected by a sharp decline in vehicle travel over a Memorial Day weekend stunted by the coronavirus, though travel within the state increased relative to earlier in the outbreak as rural areas saw traffic return to near pre-pandemic levels.
Overall transactions on the Maine Turnpike were down about 45 percent compared to last year, with the York plaza seeing a 52 percent decrease. At the state line in Kittery, there were 60,000 northbound vehicles over the weekend, compared to nearly 127,000 over Memorial Day weekend last year, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.
The decline over a Memorial Day weekend that typically enshrines tourist season in Maine is partially due to a 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors that has received pushback from the hospitality industry. Restaurants have been allowed to reopen to limited dine-in service in 12 counties while hotels can allow some guests by June 1.
Overall traffic for the weekend was down 33 percent statewide from the previous year, according to Maine DOT. The decline was less significant in more rural parts of the state, with nearly 20 Maine DOT measuring points in towns such as Newry, Hancock and Dexter showing traffic levels of at least 90 percent of that of the previous year.
Travel within Maine still increased over the course of May compared to previous months as warm weather has pushed more residents outside. Cellphone data from Google show that visits to retail and recreational establishments increased as the month went along.
Visits to those establishments remained lowest in Cumberland County, which along with York and Androscoggin counties has been hit hardest by the virus. Somerset and Hancock counties, with comparatively few cases, saw movement return close to a pre-pandemic baseline.
Within Maine, travel this past weekend was high compared to earlier in the coronavirus pandemic. Turnpike toll booth data showed a 35 percent increase in daily transactions between Friday and Sunday compared to the first weekend in May.