I am a native of the State of Maine, having been born in Bangor. Though we moved away when I was young, Maine and its people have always held a special place in my heart.
As a child, practically every summer we packed up the family automobile to travel to Maine. When I was in college, I attended both of my sister’s graduations from the University of Maine and her wedding in Orono.
When I first met my (soon-to-be) wife, we chose Maine for our first vacation together. The airline tickets alone were a month’s pay. For each of us. The first break we had while in graduate school, we drove to Maine. When our kids came along, more summer vacations were spent in Maine than anywhere else. Now that our children are grown, we have made it an (almost) annual tradition to celebrate our anniversary in Maine. In fact, we have done so seven of the past eight years.
By my count, I have spent part of more than 45 different summers in Maine.
In January, my wife and I confirmed plans to celebrate our 44th anniversary in Maine this July. However, Gov. Janet Mills has made that impossible.
Since we live in a “dangerous” state, we must either take and receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to setting foot in Maine, or, quarantine ourselves in our lodging in Maine for 14 days (or until we leave Maine). In many places — like Pennsylvania — you cannot get a COVID-19 test unless you have symptoms. I confirmed this with our family physician. Since neither my wife nor I have symptoms, we cannot get a test before we leave for Maine.
Mills says we could get the test once we arrive in Maine. But that would involve finding a clinician who will accept an appointment for us, going to the appointment, scheduling a test, taking the test, and then waiting to get the results. All the while, we must remain locked in our room. If we dare set foot outside our room, we are threatened with jail for six months and a fine of $1,000 each.
Not in my worst nightmare did I ever dream that watching the sunrise from atop Cadillac Mountain, or hiking a trail in Baxter State Park, or feasting on a lobster dinner on Thompson Island would make us criminals. But that is the reality of the summer of 2020 under Maine’s governor.
So, we will not travel to Maine this summer. We are law-abiding citizens, no matter how unreasonable we believe the law to be. Having ruined our Maine vacation this year, it is doubtful we will give Maine’s governor a second chance.
To be sure, there will be thousands of out-of-state travelers to Maine this summer who will scoff at the governor’s edict. They will merrily go about enjoying Maine as if the edict did not exist. And, some innkeepers desperate for the revenue, will turn a blind eye. Few, if any, of those scofflaws will be arrested, much less jailed or fined.
This is the world Mills created. Lawbreakers are welcome in Maine; law-abiding citizens not so much.
This makes me very sad. I hope it also makes you sad.
Stephen F. Thode is a professor emeritus of finance at Lehigh University and resides in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.