ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth City Council will hold an emergency meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, to take possible action on several items related to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Those items include an ordinance that would limit hotel, motel and short-term rentals to those deemed essential workers, General Assistance clients and those taking care of family members.
Bar Harbor recently approved a similar measure, suspending “all occupancy for transient accommodations, vacation rentals and campgrounds for nonessential travel effective April 8-April 30.”
The council also will discuss a resolution that would encourage nonresidents (in particular those from high-risk areas such as New York and New Jersey) not to travel to the area and, if they do so, to self-quarantine for 14 days.
The resolution cites concerns about “numerous sightings among Maine residents of out-of-state license plates and reports of an influx of nonresidents coming into Maine,” many to summer homes or rentals, “seeking refuge from the coronavirus outbreak.”
“Maine has one of the oldest populations in the United States,” the resolution reads, “and Hancock is among the oldest counties in Maine, a demographic that is extremely at-risk for COVID-19.”
Health-care facilities in the county, which has roughly 60,000 year-round residents, “will be greatly strained just taking care of local residents in the COVID-19 crisis and could be easily overwhelmed by an influx of visitors.”
Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital, for instance, has just 65 beds, nine of which are intensive care beds, according to previous reporting in The Ellsworth American. The hospital also can move some patients to other areas of the hospital or transfer them to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
The proposed resolution in front of the council also notes that: “The continued influx of nonresidents threatens to spread the disease to the resident population, as they travel through the state and particularly with no assurance of self-quarantine on their part when they arrive.”
The document also calls on Governor Mills “to continue to do all within her powers to discourage visitors to the state of Maine during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly from high-risk states such as New York and New Jersey, and encourage recent arrivals to self-quarantine for a 14-day period.”
Mills made such a request of visitors to Maine on Tuesday when she announced a statewide stay-at-home order and said an executive order mandating self-quarantine might be coming. But she said she can’t simply “close the state’s border, or pull up the New Hampshire bridge, as some people have suggested.”
The meeting will be broadcast on the live on the City’s Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Spectrum Channel 1303. Public comments can be sent to Chairman Dale Hamilton at [email protected] throughout.