To those who are considering coming (or have come) to Chebeague from afar:
We thought it would be helpful to share some information with those who might be coming from away. Some might already be aware, but just read carefully and consider that what you might find here will not be like the usual summers that we all look forward to. Please consider the following:
1. Bus service from the Route 1 lot has been suspended. It is scheduled to resume in June, but when it does the bus will be limited to 9 passengers per trip, and face masks and gloves will be required. Upon arrival you may not get to Cousins with the first bus trip, which likely means missing that boat and waiting for the next trip. In addition, if you do get to the boat in time….
2. Ferry passenger count is currently limited to 20 per trip. So even if you get to Cousins on that first bus, the ferry may not be able to accommodate you. There have already been instances where the ferry has had to deny boarding, leaving behind commuters trying to return home from work. The ferry is running fewer trips per day, and nothing after 6:30pm. For more detailed information about transportation you should visit the CTC website (chebeaguetrans.com) where they post frequent covid-19 related updates.
3. Once on the Island, if coming from out of state you’ll need to quarantine in your home for at least 14 days per state mandate. You’ll need to bring enough food and provisions for at least the first 14 days of your stay. If more family arrives from out of state to stay with you at a later date, and has not already quarantined, you must restart your 14-day quarantine as well. After your quarantine period has ended……
4. Groceries and other necessities are not easily accessible. Trips to the mainland stores are not a great idea as they put strain on the transportation system (see 1 and 2 above), and increase your (and therefore everyone’s) chance of exposure. As a result, many Islanders have been using Whole Foods delivery service to Casco Bay Lines from Portland. Unfortunately, they have become so busy that they’ve had to stop taking on new accounts. This happened once before, and after some adjustments they resumed accepting new accounts only to become so overwhelmed again that they had to stop. Which is where that stands today (5/22).
5. Most of the services and activities that you traditionally enjoy on the Island are not available. The Church, the Library, the Hall, Rec Center, Chebeague Inn, are all currently closed. Doughty’s Market is open but only for curbside pickup (after your 14-day quarantine), and not for prepared foods. The 4th of July parade and picnic are cancelled, as are many other annual Island events.
Keep in mind, Maine is still peaking in its Covid-19 case counts, with Cumberland County being the hardest hit and experiencing community transmission. New cases are not on a downward trajectory yet. On 5/19 Maine saw its highest single-day count of new cases, nearly double what the daily average had been in recent weeks.
If you decide to come to Chebeague you might consider bringing more than a two-week supply of all provisions. As mentioned above, the systems here are stretched thin. We are already having a hard time consistently getting things like flour, yeast, frozen vegetables, canned vegetables and of course toilet paper, paper towels and disinfectant. After you use your two week supply you will be tapping into the scant resources that we have. The more prepared you are, the less it will put a strain on the people who live here and don’t have any other place to go.
Another consideration is to think about what you can bring to the table. Do you have access to, or do you have connections with people who have access to, Personal Protective Equipment? Our rescue service has a limited supply of PPE, which means we cannot afford an outbreak. And each emergency call, regardless of whether it’s covid-related, requires the use of PPE at this time. This puts our rescue workers (our neighbors, who are volunteers) at a higher risk than they already are.
If you decide not to come, please consider Susan Stranahan‘s letter previously posted and think about donating to the Island organizations who you usually support and rely on, in hopes that we can keep them going through this challenging time.
We all love this place, and certainly can agree that we’d like to get through this uncertain time without any loss of life on the Island. Any measures taken to keep us all safe will be greatly appreciated. In addition to echoing what Marjorie and other state officials are telling us, please be careful and be kind to one another, and stay safe.
With all Respect,
Sam and John Birkett