Maine businesses expect heavy losses in revenue and employment this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and government actions to contain it, according to a survey conducted by local chambers of commerce.

Eighty percent of campground and lodging respondents said they expect economic losses of more than 50 percent, and two of three restaurants, bars and cafes said they expect losses of more than 40 percent, according to the survey results.

Businesses said that almost half of the 37,000 employees they had before the pandemic hit Maine have been laid off or furloughed, and another quarter are working reduced hours. About 16 percent of businesses said they do not expect to open at all this summer, with a higher proportion in tourism-dependent York and Hancock counties.

Almost 1,470 companies responded to the online survey from the Maine Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives during the first week of May. Respondents came from nearly every county, with the heaviest response from Cumberland, Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot and York counties.

Respondents also were asked about Gov. Janet Mills’ phased reopening plan for businesses. Among the responses were those who said that a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors poses difficulties for lodging and tourism businesses, that the state should allow earlier reopening for regions less affected by COVID-19, and that it should provide more clarity about the reasons for allowing certain businesses to reopen before or after others.

The survey was taken before Mills announced that some businesses in less-affected rural areas would be allowed to open earlier than expected.

But businesses also acknowledged the challenge that Mills’ administration is facing, and many urged caution because reopening too quickly could trigger another economic shutdown. Businesses said they want to be part of the solution, believe they can be trusted and take their role in helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 very seriously, according to the survey.

“The survey findings present a clear picture of the real impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Maine’s economy and businesses in every sector and region of the state,” said Quincy Hentzel, president and CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “When the pandemic passes and Maine starts to get back to business as usual, these findings will be an important benchmark for us to measure and evaluate how well Maine bounces back.”

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