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Action Alert: Nonessential businesses

UPDATE: On Friday afternoon (4/17), the City released a statement regarding their guidance on nonessential businesses. Here’s a link to it.
In short, they announced they would not enforce the restrictions on shipping, etc for nonessential businesses over the weekend, and there will be a workshop discussion tonight (4/20) at 5:30pm regarding continued enforcement (or lack of enforcement).
You can tune into the workshop via zoom. The link is included on the workshop agenda (click here). There will not be public comment at tonight’s workshop.
Next Monday (4/27) at 5:30pm, the City Council will have a regular meeting. As part of that meeting, they will discuss the Stay-at-Home Order, and any potential changes or further clarifications that are needed. There will be an opportunity for public comment at that meeting. That agenda has not yet been published, but when it is, you can find it (and the zoom link) on the City’s Agendas + Minutes webpage.
If you would like to participate in the public comment next week and need some support, let us know – we can provide some support and let you know how it works.
Something I’ve been saying over and over again is that everyone (ev.er.y.one.) is exhausted, anxious, and trying their best – including our elected officials. They are working to navigated an unprecedented crisis, and to keep up with the veritable barrage of information that is coming their way.
All of their inboxes have been totally flooded – and they are listening. I’ve spoken with the Mayor and several Councilors over the phone, and I know that they want to find a way to protect public safety while also supporting our local business community.
Here’s my friendly rule of advocacy: if you write to a legislator and ask them to make a change, and they do it – then you should also write them a thank you note afterward. I will plan on doing that, and I hope you’ll do the same (though maybe we spread it out a bit so their inboxes aren’t overwhelmed all over again… )
Lastly, I know many of our local business community are terrified — understandably so. We will continue to advocate for our local business community at a local, state, and federal level. The City Council’s quick response and eagerness to listen to our local business community is a great demonstration that if we work together, we can make our voices heard.

From early morning Friday 4/17:

Yesterday (4/16) the City released an FAQ clarifying their Stay at Home Order, and its guidance that non-essential businesses are prohibited from even shipping items to customers.

If this impacts your business (or, honestly, even if it doesn’t), we’d encourage you to reach out to Mayor Snyder and City Manager Jon Jennings.

The City Council does not meet again until April 27th, so it will be up to Mayor Snyder and the City Manager to amend this Order before then.

We testified before the City Council on Tuesday night about this matter, and in support of an amendment which Councilor Ray put forth. That amendment would have put the City’s language more in line with the State’s. It failed, and the City released its FAQ clarifying the strict interpretation on Thursday.

We will keep working with local government and our organizational partners on this issue – we know it is of huge importance to so many of our business community.

In the meantime, please write to the Mayor and City Manager and ask them to reverse course. It is vitally important that they hear from local business owners.

 

Here is some suggested language that you can use and make your own:

“Dear Mayor Snyder and Mr. Jennings,

My name is _____ and I own and operate ______. We are a designated non-essential business. 

As a local business owner, I absolutely understand that public health is the City’s number one priority right now. Local businesses have demonstrated leadership during this crisis by pro-actively closing and instituting other measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. We all understand that the economy cannot return to “normal” until we can stop or severely limit the spread of this virus, and like you, we are worried about the health and safety of ourselves and our loved ones.

However, I saw the City’s FAQ for businesses today. I am writing to express my concern and ask that the City amend the policy that prohibits non-essential businesses from conducting no-contact delivery or shipping.

As a nonessential business, we need to be able to ship items. With no revenue coming in, and no rent relief from many landlords, we still have utilities to pay, health insurance premiums to cover, and groceries to buy. We could generate only a fraction of our typical sales through no-contact delivery and shipping. But those few sales enable us to pay our bills, support our families, and prevent us from closing our doors for good.

Local businesses like mine are a vital part of what makes Portland a unique and wonderful place to live and work, and has helped make it the must-visit destination it is today.

Please consider amending your Order to allow small, local, nonessential businesses to do no-contact delivery and shipping. Many of our businesses will shutter permanently without support from City and State officials, including the ability to do these safe, no-contact, socially distant practices.

Thank you for your time,

(Business Name)

(Business Owner)

 

Contact the City:

Jon Jennings – City Manager – jpj@portlandmaine.gov –207-874-8673

Mayor Kate Snyder – ksnyder@portlandmaine.gov – 207-874-8941
You can also reach out to your City Councilors, but the Council does not meet again until the 27th and it is likely Mayor Snyder and the City Manager will need to make this change.
Councilor Belinda Ray – District 1 – bsr@portlandmaine.gov- 207-671-4000
Councilor Spencer Thibodeau – District 2 – sthibodeau@portlandmaine.gov – 207-650-2147
Councilor Tae Chong – District 3 – tchong@portlandmaine.gov – 207-650-0126
Councilor Justin Costa – District 4 – jcosta@portlandmaine.gov – 207-522-2004
Councilor Kimberly Cook – District 5 – kcook@portlandmaine.gov- 207-874-8986
Councilor Pious Ali – At Large – pali@portlandmaine.gov- 207-807-4283
Councilor Nicholas Mavodones – At Large – nmm@portlandmaine.gov – 207-774-0257
Councilor Jill Duson – At Large – jduson@portlandmaine.gov – 207-878-0769

Thank you to our Sustaining Members!

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