Calais City Council declares city “Open for Business” in defiance of Governor Janet Mills

Calais, Maine historic district. Photo by Ken Gallagher

CALAIS, ME – The Calais City Council has declared their city is “Open for Business” in defiance of Governor Janet Mills’ stay at home order and the executive orders Mills has issued with her emergency powers. Citing a Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruling and the right of the people of their city to make a living as free citizens, the council cast the vote Thursday evening after several made strong statements in defiance of the Governor. The move comes as Maine is about to enter a third month under heavy state restrictions.

A video of the meeting shows Councilor Michael Sherrard saying forcefully, “We need to make sure the rest of the state knows we’re open for business. And that our merchants and restaurateurs will be able to make a living for their family because if it does not happen soon, we’re not gonna have anything left.”

Other councilors agreed, talking about the relatively low risk the city has faced from COVID-19 but the economic toll the shutdown has taken on the local economy.

“But I don’t think there’s any difference between Wal-Mart being able to, have customers, and Artemis’s Attic not being able to have customers,” said councilor Mark Carr, with others joining in to agree with him.

Carr went on to stress that there needs to be an awareness of the business and customers to keep a proper distance.

“As long as the business owners and the patrons sense their responsibility to keep everyone else at a distance, there’s no difference.”

Only one member of the council, Councilor Marcia Rogers, voted in opposition to the motion.

Mayor Billy Howard said he was totally against what Governor Janet Mills has done and called the Governor’s limitations on businesses non-realistic.

The move comes less than 48 hours before another wave of protesters descend on the Governor’s Mansion and State House in Augusta in protest of the Governor’s orders.

Calais is a small city in Washington County on the border between the United States and Canada. According to Maine CDC data, Washington County has only reported two COVID-19 cases throughout the pandemic. Both of those cases have recovered, according to the Maine CDC geographic report.

While the area has been left mostly unscathed by the virus, Calais Regional Hospital has been on the verge of closure as early as June due to revenue losses after curtailing elective and outpatient services due to state and federal guidance in the early days of the pandemic. Revenue losses from that decision have put the hospital in dire financial straits.

A detailed report from Jayna Smith at The Calais Advertiser can be read here.

Video of the meeting can be viewed here.

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