Town of Chebeague Island
192 North Road
Chebeague Island, ME 04017

May 15, 2020

Dear friends and neighbors, 

We know you love this community as much as we do. We have heard that our COVID-19 updates to the Chebeague family of year-round, seasonal residents and visitors has sometimes been confusing and even negative. How do you say we love you and look forward to seeing you, but stay away? It reminds me of that old Dan Hicks song, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?” My apologies in advance, to those not familiar with Dan Hicks music. 

So, how do we answer the questions, “Can I come?” and “Should I Come?” We have tried to present the facts from Governor Janet Mills Executive Orders for the State of Maine. When you come from out-of-state, the order says you must self-quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival. 

If you were currently living in the State of Maine in March, when Covid-19 hit, the answers to your questions are found in the March 31st “Stay-at-Home” to the slightly expanded May 1st “Stay Safely at Home Order.” We are all supposed to stay home unless we have to go out for essential activities. The success of our battle with Covid-19 depends on each of us staying informed, being safe and doing our part. 

What does that mean to all of our summer residents that live close by in Cumberland County, for instance? That has been the most difficult for me to answer. Our first messages stated that even people coming from other parts of Maine had to self-quarantine. That has been clarified now by Maine CDC. Maine residents are not required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they move to another Maine location. My apologies for any confusion our first messaging may have caused. 

I’ve come to believe that we must follow the guidance given to us by the State of Maine. You have to look at that guidance yourself and make a decision about whether or not to travel to Chebeague. 

We are all just trying to stay safe. If you make the decision to come to Chebeague, please keep yourself -- and everyone else -- safe by practicing social distancing, wearing a cloth mask when you are in proximity to others, avoid touching your face, washing your hands regularly and keeping your surfaces disinfected. 

By all means, if you need help, please call on me and I will do my best to answer your questions or assist in any way possible. In addition, we have a group of volunteers from across the island organizations, known as the Community Action Response Team (CART) who are working to keep island life safe and the communication lines open. We do not want you to feel unwelcome. 

What will you find when you get here? Most people stay at home and do not go to the mainland unless absolutely necessary. It is quiet. You see people out for walks, but they keep to themselves. People are treading lightly. Nearly all of the events and traditions of Summer are cancelled. For example, The Library, Recreation Center, the Church, School, the old Grange (School House Seconds), Historical Society and Community Center Building are closed for now, including all their grounds. There are no public bathrooms open on the entire island. Some programs are being evaluated for later in the Summer with a wait and see for public health and Covid-19 spread. 

The Island Market and the Boatyard are open with safety measures. You have to call ahead with your Island Market order and pick it up outside. Many organizations are in flux and reviewing the Governor’s 4-phased reopening requirements. Our Food Pantry has emerged with wonderful options for everyone, not just those with food insecurity. Chandler’s Wharf traffic and deliveries are at an all-time high for this time of year which requires constant attention and patience. Life is very different. 

Last week, we had our first publicly announced Covid-19 case. The Community Action Response Team (CART) team is currently working with local, county, state, national and international experts and epidemiologists to address the island’s public health needs. We are evaluating on-island options to care, trace and test for the coronavirus. Now, more than ever, we emphasize the safety precautions and personal responsibility we all must take for our personal health. 

How will I get there? During normal times, it can be challenging to live on an island. It is even more difficult now. If you plan to travel to Chebeague Island, one of your first calls should be to Chebeague Transportation Company. All of their policies are being reviewed for safety protocols on a nearly daily basis and change quickly. Check with CTC right up until the day you travel. There is currently no bus service from Route One, boat passengers are limited to 20 per trip and ticketing is contactless. The barging service is being revised to enable safe passage for people planning to quarantine for 14 days. Details can be found on the CTC website. Planning ahead and patience will be more important than ever. 

We are one Chebeague community, whether we are year-round or seasonal residents and visitors to the island. This pandemic is hard on all of us. It may not feel like we are one, but we are whether we are together or separated. Chebeague holds us together with the love we have for the island. There is a saying in Maine, “I think we are on the other side of it.” We will make it to the other side of this pandemic. 

Thank you for your support and remember to be kind to one another. 

Marjorie E. Stratton
Town Administrator