Maine’s breweries want Gov. Janet Mills to rethink her reopening plan for the state, arguing that they should be able to open when restaurants do so on June 1.

The Maine Brewers Guild said Tuesday that the current plan puts the breweries and brew pubs in the same category as bars, which aren’t allowed to reopen until July 1. But many of the breweries in Maine offer outdoor seating and are at least as safe as the restaurants, said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the guild.

Studies have shown that the coronavirus does not spread as easily outdoors, Sullivan said. That’s why many officials are urging restaurants to provide outdoor seating for diners.

Some towns and cities are making it easier for restaurants to get permits for outdoor seating. Portland, for example, is closing some streets to allow restaurants to set up tables outdoors and cutting permit costs and regulations for the use of “parklets” – parking spaces on the street – for diners.

Sullivan said the state is using liquor license classifications to determine reopening dates, but those licenses generally reflect the types of alcohol a facility can sell and what percentage of sales must be food.

The state should look at the ability to operate outdoors “as the primary determinant of when a brewery, bar or restaurant can reopen, not liquor license classifications,” the guild said in a statement.


Vermont, New Hampshire and Boston are prioritizing the reopening of businesses with outdoor seating, the statement said, putting Maine breweries and brew pubs at a competitive disadvantage by making them wait to reopen until July 1, the guild said.

And federal reopening guidelines don’t make a distinction between bars and restaurants, the organization said.

“Maine brewers are fully prepared and ready to adhere to the same standards as restaurants,” the guild said.

Mills’ office did not immediately respond Tuesday night to a request for an interview about the guild’s statement.

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