By Associated Press - Wednesday, May 5, 2021

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine’s tourism industry saw visitation drop by about 27% last year during the pandemic, but the impact wasn’t as dire as some feared.

A late-summer boost in travel made up for some of the lost ground early in the pandemic, preventing the tourism season from being a total bust.

Total spending on restaurants, lodging, shopping and other activities fell to about $4.8 billion, according to the Maine Office of Tourism. The total economic impact dipped to about $9 billion from more than $12 billion the year before, the tourism office reported.



Maine Gov. Janet Mills praised the work of health officials and business leaders for pandemic precautions that set the state up for a late-season surge in tourists, the Portland Press Herald reported. The state’s reputation as a safe place helped draw visitors, she said.

“You committed to following public safety and health precautions and attended trainings to slow the spread of the virus and keep our visitors, staff and public safe. The innovation and ingenuity of this industry embodied the very essence of this state,” she said.

Unlike last summer, the state has lifted testing and quarantine requirements for people coming to the state. Occupancy restrictions will grow to 75% indoors and 100% outdoors later this month.

In other pandemic news:

THE NUMBERS

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has gone from from 448 new cases per day on April 19 to 297 new cases per day on May 3.

On Wednesday, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevent reported another 348 infections and one death.

The state has had more than 62,000 infections and more than 790 deaths since the pandemic began.

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PLAY BALL

The Portland Sea Dogs returned to action for the first time since 2019.

A reduced-capacity sellout crowd of more than 1,800 witnessed an 11-2 rout of the Sea Dogs by the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Fans wore masks and were socially distanced in the grandstand. But they didn’t seem to mind after a 610-day baseball drought.

“This is the best day of the year so far,” Michele Reagan told the Portland Press Herald. “I’m here, and there’s baseball to watch.”

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VACCINE REQUIREMENT

The University of New England announced Wednesday that students and employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall.

School officials said they are planning for a fall semester that will be as close to normal as possible, including the goal of full occupancy in classrooms, residence halls and labs.

The university is working with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to hold vaccine clinics for students and employees. The first one is this week on the Biddeford campus.

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