Maine Sporting Camp Association says Governor’s rural reopening plan fails
According to a group representing sporting camps around Maine, Gov. Janet Mill’s rural reopening plan falls short of providing relief to commercial sporting camps, employees, guides and rural neighbors because it bans visits from non-residents. Non-resident fishing trips over the next six weeks generates almost 90% of the annual revenue for many of the camps operating across the state. The cost of opening for just residents, as proposed by the Governor, may not be financially justified and refunding client advance payments is right now creating problems and conflicts. If the ban effectively shuts down a camp for a year, it could mean the camp is shut down forever. Maine will lose a valuable resource.
Already, several long-standing repeat clients have voiced their frustration by saying they will likely never visit Maine again. Clients have multiple out-of-state wilderness locations they can visit, and many areas have already lifted restrictions for sporting lodges. “The cycle of an annual fishing trip to Maine will be broken and the link may never be restored,” said Harvey Calden, president of the Maine Sporting Camp Association (MSCA) and owner of Tim Pond Camps in Eustis.
Also, the Governor has rejected a compromise proposal made last week by MSCA to allow non-resident clients to “self-certify” that they have been in isolation at their home for at least 14 days and thus allow safe travel to Maine. Furthermore, these clients would state that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, that they have travelled to the lodge directly from their out-of-state home, practice social distancing, including wearing face coverings when appropriate, and among other certifications, agree to follow special safety protocols.
“Sporting camps operate in rural areas and by their nature are isolated from the public,” Calden stated. They already follow strict food and cleanliness guidelines as a requirement for state licensing. Certified food safety managers implement and supervise COVID-19 reopening protocols as recommended by CDC. “These protocols will keep our clients, employees, and the public safe,” said Calden.
The MSCA believes its certification proposal is consistent with the goals to mitigate the spread of the virus and believe the rejection is unjustified. Compliance with COVID-19 guidance is largely based on trust and the MSCA is confident clients of member lodges can be trusted. Moreover, these annual visitors will provide some of our state’s most rural and economically challenged regions a much need economic boost.
“We hope the Governor will re-consider the MSCA proposal to help restart our damaged economy – this is urgent, and time is critical,” said Calden.