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Campground and restaurant owners in southern Maine will appeal a Maine federal’s judge’s ruling that Gov. Janet Mills’ 14-quarantine for out-of-state visitors is constitutional to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
Bayley’s Camping Resort, the Little River Bar & Grille and the Seaside Square Cafe, all in Scarborough, and the Little Ossipee Campground in Waterboro sued Mills in U.S. District Court in Portland on May 15 claiming that the 14-day quarantine is negatively impacting their businesses. They sought a preliminary injunction to lift the order the governor has said is aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
A notice of appeal was filed in the case Monday.
U.S. District Judge Lance Walker, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, on Friday said that the case has potential but the plaintiffs had not yet shown that they would prevail in the long run, one of the standards for granting the injunction.
A few hours before Walker issued his decision, the U.S. Department of Justice weighed in on the side of the business owners arguing that Maine could use less restrictive measures to protect the public from the coronavirus. Federal attorneys suggested requiring people from virus “hotspots,” such as New York City, rather than all out-of-staters, to quarantine.
Walker wrote in his 28-page ruling that the case “pits a prudent fear of a possible explosion of infection against a competing ethic best described as the indomitable human desire to enjoy individual liberty and pursue one’s life,” but that plaintiffs “have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, a favorable balance of the equities, and the absence of a serious countervailing public interest.”
“Furthermore, irreparable injury is, at this time, only suggested, though it is no doubt mounting,” he continued.
Bayley’s Camping Resort claimed in the complaint that between March 16 and May 12, 715 reservations were canceled because of the quarantine requirement. 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.
They claim Mills’ order is unconstitutional because it doesn’t allow people to move freely from one state to another.
The state has argued that the orders crafted by Mills, a former attorney general, are constitutional.
“The self-quarantine order does not implicate or violate the constitutional right-to-travel or any other constitutional provision,” her attorneys said in their brief. “As the Supreme Court held long ago, states have broad latitude when confronting a public health emergency, and the normal constitutional analysis does not apply.”
Mills allowed private campgrounds to open to in-state residents on Memorial Day week.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have said that the majority of their summer business is from out-of-state visitors.
The court in Boston is expected to expedite the appeal.
Watch: Janet Mills announces changes to June 1 reopening phase