UPDATE: Upset Maine RV park owners sue Governor

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

This story was published earlier this week. For the latest updates, please continue reading.

Two Maine campgrounds have filed suit against Maine Governor Janet Mills seeking immediate injunctive relief against the governor’s ban on interstate campground guests. Bayley’s Camping Resort in Scarborough, and Little Ossipee Campground in Waterboro, are asking a U.S. District Court to order the governor to lift the ban on non-state customers. Last week the governor allowed campgrounds to reopen in Maine, but with the stipulation that any guests from out of state must undergo a 14-day quarantine.

That stipulation, says the lawsuit, is a violation of both state and federal constitutional guarantees of the right of interstate travel. Both campground owners contend that the governor’s restrictions not only violate those guarantees, but are also having a huge financial impact on their ability to make a living. In a little less than two months beginning in mid-March, Bayley’s logged more than 700 cancellations and had to refund more than $150,000 in reservation fees. Little Ossipee says its revenues have plummeted nearly $95,000 due to cancellations.

Among other issues, the suit argues that quarantine restrictions for out-of-staters are arbitrary, as they are required regardless of health status, COVID-19 tests, whether individuals show symptoms or not, had recent contact with someone infected with the disease or not, nor whether they’ve already quarantined in their home state. It also takes issue with the state’s threat of criminal prosecution for those who might violate the governor’s order without the availability of due process. The suit sites, as an example, a regular Bayley’s guest from New Hampshire, Curtis Bonell. Both Bonell and his wife have been infected with and recovered from coronavirus, making them at low risk for transmitting it to others, but if they were to travel to Maine and fail to quarantine, they risk criminal penalties.

As to how the governor’s defenders are thinking, the Bangor Daily News published this comment from the state’s attorney general, Aaron Frey: “The executive orders and the restarting plan at issue in this lawsuit were carefully crafted and have been reviewed and updated in order to protect Mainers’ health during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Frey continued: “We will represent the governor and will vigorously defend the constitutionality of the challenged executive orders and restarting plan and the governor’s authority to protect public health.”

We spoke with Thomas Bayley of Bayley’s Camping Resort on Tuesday morning. Asked if he was continuing the suit, he told us quite emphatically that this week the matter would begin airing before a judge. He’s looking forward to a positive resolution of the matter, and hopes more information will be available next week.

Update – Saturday 5/30/2020

Just prior to the expiration of the mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state guests to Maine’s RV parks, the governor extended the ban. Not only are RV parks and campgrounds affected, likewise are hotels and motels. Under the extension, anyone coming into Maine from out of state must submit themselves to the two-week quarantine on arrival at any of these places of accommodation.

According to industry sources, this has raised the ire of some RV park operators and moteliers, some suggesting they will ignore the governor’s order and take in out of state guests regardless of the directive for a quarantine. The federal government has also voiced a negative view of the continuing ban through the Department of Justice.

Attorneys for the Department, including Maine’s own U.S. attorney, have filed a brief in support of Bayley’s Campground, citing concerns that the feds have a “compelling interest in protecting the public and citizens’ constitutional right to be free from unjustified discrimination on the basis of state residency.” The government’s basis, it says, is that in its view, the State of Maine is acting toward non-Maine residents in a discriminatory fashion by infringing on their ability to be patrons of RV parks and campgrounds.

The federal brief also notes that not all non-residents are forced into quarantine once they cross the border. “As far as public safety goes, it is unclear why out-of-state residents may enter Maine to engage in any ‘legal, business, professional, environmental permitting and insurance services,’ for example, but not to patronize a campground or RV park. … If Maine wants to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one would think it would start by preventing outsiders from attending a boardroom meeting, not from pitching a tent.”

Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, is not pleased with the apparent interference in what she sees as a state’s matter. Mills writes she is “deeply disappointed and frankly disgusted – that the U.S Department of Justice is making a concerted effort to undermine the health of the people of Maine.” She added, “Maintaining the 14-day quarantine … has never been about anything other than protecting the health and safety of Maine people at a time when millions are expected to flock to our state from COVID-19 hot spots,” Mills said. “I imagine it is for this same reason that so many other governors have enacted similar measures.”

As to the Bayley lawsuit, at the end of the work week a federal judge rejected the suit’s request for a preliminary injunction against the governor’s orders.

We understand that some RV park owners are incensed that their own support and promotion organization, the Maine Campground Owners Association, has been silent on the matter. We obtained a copy of the organization’s last newsletter, issued earlier this week, and it contained not one word about the quarantine order for out-of state residents. We have made repeated attempts to reach Kathy Dyer, the executive director of the organization, but as of Saturday evening, calls have not been returned.

We’ll keep you posted as this situation changes.

##RVT950b

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Dan Cunningham
2 months ago

They are very much like your president. Thinking only of themselves and of no one else.

Diane
2 months ago

All the states that opened early without following CDC guidelines are overflowing with Covid. Many people have no symptoms, so don’t know they have it and can pass it. The virus doesn’t care about your rights. So much for hot weather killing the virus-guess where it is right now! BTW I’m still making masks-all sizes, you pay postage. We’re STILL in the 1st wave. I worry that RV NEWBIES don’t know the rules of camping. God help us.

Chuck
2 months ago

Scientists say a virus is 1/1000 the size of grain of salt. Doesn’t need spit to carry it! A gallon of sea water can have 10 million virus in it . Your DNA is made up of 8% virus. In other words, we live in a very dirty world. If viruses could kill you, man kind would have been gone long time ago. It’s our immune system that is at fault. Take care of it and no worries. Been plenty of testimonies of people over 90 and 100 years old that survived !!!!!!

Diane K.
3 months ago

Obviously, our government officials do not go camping. If they did, they would all be knowledgeable as to how many campgrounds are capable of operating safely, through this virus crisis.

I’ve been camping 50 years. I’ve done it all… travel trailers, tents and motorhomes. I believe all campgrounds with water, sewer and electric amenities can open safely to the public. RV’s are self-sufficient, so closing the public bath houses and swimming pools/ponds is a realistic possibility to help ensure social distancing. Wearing a mask outside the confines of one’s campsite should be practiced. One can enjoy many pleasures camping offers, while staying in a designated campsite.

I see living in our “home away from home” is far safer than staying in a place where Who Knows! has stayed before us… I believe RVers would be happy to pay camping fees to get away from the daily monotony of the Coronavirus to get a change of scenery, knowing they are still obligated to practice social distancing. But everyone must comply.

While not all campgrounds offer water, sewer and electric, many do. And while it’s unfortunate that some don’t offer all 3 conveniences, one cannot look past the fact that that is a choice made previously, by each business owner as to which amenities they won’t offer. I believe those who have made a conscience decision to invest in all 3 amenities should not be held back financially, because others have chosen not to invest.

Discounting camping rates for a season is an option as well. A lesser income is better than no income!

This is America…where financial opportunities are abound. I don’t think it’s necessary we all go down with the ship. Maybe our government just doesn’t care who does/doesn’t prevail.

Maybe this is all 1 big conspiracy to see how far the government can push us…

John T
3 months ago

All the states’ 14-day quarantine ordrs for people coming from out of state are in violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, which grants the regulation of interstate commerce to the US Congress alone. They are also in violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection under the law, in that they apply to people doing certain activities (camping) but not to others.

Travis
3 months ago

The stupidly and just plain lack of common sense in some of these state governors is just unreal. Here in PA we unfortunately have one of these ***** as a governor as well.

rollin
3 months ago

Can anyone tell me if the BLM has closed the BLM lands out west? Wanting to plan a trip back out there, and wanting to plan on some free-range camping……. Thanks kindly……

John T
3 months ago
Reply to  rollin

No. All BLM lands are open for dispersed camping. I’m sitting on BLM land in Utah now. Pay campgrounds have been closed.

rollin
3 months ago

It’s safe enough to stand in line at Sam’s or Kroeger’s or in the tag office to pay taxes……..

BUT DON’T YOU DARE SIT IN THE SECURITY OF YOUR OWN RV OR CAMP TRAILER IN A SECLUDED SPOT IN A SECLUDED CAMPGROUND.

………it ain’t fair to da rest of us………

John
3 months ago

All these various restrictions and lockdowns are HIGHLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Sad thing is so many have willing rolled over for this. I think America as we knew it, is gone.

rollin
3 months ago
Reply to  John

Bye, Bye Miss American Pie

Drove my RV to the campground

But the campground was closed.

Tiny Tyrants and snotrags

Sit in their offices, unopposed.

Bye, bye, Miss American Pie.

pursuits712
3 months ago

We had our reservations cancelled when Virginia instituted their 14-day quarantine, since we were only staying overnight on our way north. It is difficult to understand why my being in my own rig overnight would be more threatening than my stopping at the truck stop and going inside for snacks, or stopping at rest areas to eat at the tables, or other “pass through” opportunities.

However, I understand the need for caution, particularly when the virus was at it’s worst and our information about it’s spread was limited. Now that things are reopening using a percentage of capacity standard, then applying that same standard to hotels and campgrounds does not seem to me to be singling anyone out.

Hotels are much tighter quarters than campgrounds, but if campgrounds were to be exempted, you can be the hoteliers would be screaming. In this economic uncertainty, many businesses are failing and have already gone under. It is sad, but losing family and friends to this disease is even sadder.

Cindy
3 months ago

Maybe the governor thinks her orders were “carefully crafted and have been reviewed and updated”, but I can tell you there is NO SCIENCE involved. It’s strictly her opinion and she doesn’t care who she bankrupts over it. Now they will have to appeal to a higher court and hope to get relief there. So far the SCOTUS has not been that helpful (witness the ruling against churches in CA who they equated to cultural centers and denying their first amendment rights). What the Maine governor’s motivation is, I don’t know. The situation in VT is the same – quarantine of visitors to campgrounds. It’s total nonsense. Do they think they are the only ones who will have visitors from “hot spots” (which now don’t really exist)? States in the west and mid-west are mostly open. The eastern states are paranoid. So far the only thing I’ve seen is governors (largely Democratic) being little dictators. They have far over stepped their legal bounds, even ignoring their own State’s constitutions on time limits.

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago

So what do you do? Park outside the RV park for two weeks while you wait out the quarantine? You can say you’ve been in your RV for the past month and haven’t even opened the door. Who’s to say you haven’t? You can’t tell me that the way this flu is being handled isn’t political. Sorry.

Donald N Wright
3 months ago

Here’s an idea. How about anyone who lives in Maine, if they leave the state they have to be quarantined for fourteen days after they cross the state border. Includes flying too.

littleleftie
3 months ago

It is a wise decision. As a healthcare worker, I can tell you without a doubt that the 14 day quarantine is a good idea. Some people are asymptomatic but if anyone you may contact prior to those 14 days becomes sick, at least they can trace the spread. I understand the nice weather makes people want to go camping. But listen when they say that the next wave is coming..because it is. And it will be worse. It always is. They say life is short. That’s true. Just don’t make it shorter for others by being in a rush to enjoy yourself.

LiVan_Life
3 months ago
Reply to  littleleftie

Being out in the open air and sunshine is good for all, and in keeping the virus at bay. We travel months at a time in our RV and seldom violate anyone’s personal space as it’s easy to keep proper distances. Perhaps when you RV you are in large groups but the majority of us stand to chat with fellow RVers outside. Not talking cabins or motel rooms but my very own home on wheels is a safe place.

Cindy
3 months ago
Reply to  littleleftie

I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. The science just isn’t there to justify a 14 day quarantine on ALL visitors, including those who have had it or do not have it now. I’m more likely, in that case, to catch it in Maine than to bring it in. Test me, but do not insist I quarantine if I am not ill or have no chance of being ill. And how is camping any different than anything else? I can go to a WalMart but not your campground? There is not always a second wave and it is not always worse – that was the Spanish flu, which had 3 waves. I think you are missing the points that are concerning. (1) There are time limits on what governors can do in times of emergency. (2) they are bankrupting their people without concern and (3) the purpose of the lock down was to SLOW the virus, not eliminate it. We have done the former and it is impossible to do the latter. (4) A full 50% of deaths were in nursing homes, therefore the general population is not at as much risk as you seem to think. Yes, it’s more communicable than other flu, but it is not so much more deadly, especially to people under 65. Why not an age limit on visitors? See, the whole quarantine argument is nonsensical from every perspective.

Travis
3 months ago
Reply to  Cindy

Cindy you are correct. The young healthy folks need to get back out for many reasons. One get the country back working. Two we need herd immunity in case we do get a second wave. If not then yes a second wave could be worse. I was just at a campground memorial day weekend that had no mask required. Out of state was welcome. everyone was good at social distancing and had a good time. Even had a band playing one night. Yes life is short and I could get hit by a bus tomorrow which is why I do not live my life in fear. But everyone is different and folks have the right to stay closed up inside away from everyone if that’s what they want.

LRP
3 months ago

Ummm…if you decide to go hiking or do some other form of sightseeing, who’s going to know if you are from out-of-state or how long you’ve been in state? Just wondering…

Crowman
3 months ago
Reply to  LRP

Your license plate on your car would be a start.

Bob Zagami
3 months ago
Reply to  LRP

They actually considered state troopers at the borders on Route 95 to check license plates and find out why people were coming into Maine. Thankfully, they haven’t gone that far yet.

Mojo
3 months ago

I realize you would prefer not to entertain opinions that may hint of political malfeasance, but a review of her previous political endeavors will reflect a preponderance of precisely that. An election is coming.

Dave Gobel
3 months ago

Remember Florida closed it’s border to anyone coming from New York. They had sherrif’s deputies at the border turning back any car with a New York license plate. Of course Florida has a Trump supporting governor so I guess that is OK.

Cindy
3 months ago

I desperately want to go to VT this year, but they have the same restrictions in place until at least July. Nonsense! If I don’t have COVID, then what is the problem? This is another example of a governor overstepping their bounds of authority.

Steve Penrose
3 months ago
Reply to  Cindy

The problem is that a great number of people with COVID-19 don’t know they are infected – yet they can transmit the disease to others for whom the disease can be deadly. In this pandemic, we are truly asked to be our brothers keeper

Mark
3 months ago

Well considered policies that are unconstitutional are unconstitutional. Good luck and legal fortune to the RV Park owners. This governor is especailly over the top. In her zeal, she is destroying much of Miane’s most significant tourism businesses. If this continues for muich more than the next 2 weeks – the entire season will be gone – which means the entire year is gone.
If this happens, the governor will have closed many of these businesses for good. This is what Trump meant by not making the lock down worse than the virus.
The governor and her Ag should be working WITH the tourism industry to open now – not be in court to stop opening!

Mark O.
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark

I’ve been following both NH and VT on this issue. VT MAY start letting folks from out of state in on June 15th, we’ll see. As for NH they started allowing non-residents back into hotels, motels and B&B’s again. You must fill out a form at check-in certifying you quarantined for 14 days prior to your arrival and that you have no symptoms of covid 19 and haven’t spent time with anyone who has except……………….this does not apply to RV parks and campgrounds which are still state residents only. This makes absolutely NO sense to me, how is it safer to stay in one of the aforementioned places than staying in your own mobile residence? I’d be more than happy to sign off on a form at check-in as I’m sure most people would. These people seem to think if you’re traveling to a campground in an RV and you’re coming from another state you’re just coming to spread disease. All 3 of these Northern New England states need to wake up before they kill off one of their major tourist industries. I feel for the owners of these campgrounds.