Maine island: Stay away until virus threat abates

Associated Press
Posted 2020-03-16

NORTH HAVEN, Maine (AP) — As the coronavirus spreads, people can’t be blamed for wanting an island hideout. But one island in Maine has made it clear: Visitors are not welcome.

The North Haven Select Board voted Sunday to ban visitors and seasonal residents immediately to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to the Penobscot Bay island, where there have been no cases yet.

“People who do not reside on the island full-time may not travel to the island due to the significant increase in risk associated with the transmission of COVID-19,” the order states.

Exempted from the order is travel for “essential purposes” — that includes health care providers, the order said.

Maine has 15 islands that are reachable only by boat or airplane and are inhabited year-round, and so far North Haven is the only one to resort to such a drastic measure to protect islanders from the virus, said Rob Snyder from the Island Institute.

“North Haven’s actions speak for themselves. Other islands are considering similar actions,” he said. “Maine’s islands are some of the oldest communities in the state, and their health response resources are already stressed.”

But, he added, it’s not surprising that out-of-state residents who spend summers on the island might want to escape to a place where they feel safe. “Many people consider the islands home, whether they are residents or not, so these actions have the potential to undermine the broader community,” he said.

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