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Health and Safety Is Leading Every Tour And Activity

a person standing in front of a brick building

Are you able to come to Portland, Maine, this year to visit? While you are here, would you consider taking a guided tour or experience with us? If you are concerned about how these are happening right now, here is an outline of our Health and Safety policies that are in place to protect our guests, our staff, and our partners.

Things are different now in the tourism world, there is no question about that. Tours, activities, and attractions worldwide have had to make major adjustments in order to restart their operations.

Beer tour operations around the country are largely still sidelined for a variety of reasons. Our colleagues in many states and major cities still do not know when they will be able to resume any sort of tour offerings.

a group of people standing on a sidewalk

Brew Bus founder Zach Poole meets a recent group at Old Port Spirits for the Old Port Walk, Talk, and Taste tour.

This includes our own buses that are still parked in Boston, Massachusetts, and in Providence, Rhode Island.

In Portland, our summer and fall tourism season is at least partially underway. We are seeing many tour and activity operators working with reduced offerings, schedules, and capacities.

The State of Maine has taken the position to limit the visitors into Vacationland by using data to determine if their resident state is as safe or safer than Maine is. This policy is called the Keep Maine Healthy plan, and every business in Maine is strictly adhering to these guidelines.

a group of people sitting at a table with wine glasses

Bruce Elam, trade brewer for Shipyard Brewing Company, welcomes recent guests to their outside tasting area with some of their legendary beers.

The good news is that this methodology does permit people from several states to freely enter Maine without quarantine or testing requirements.

Of course, residents of many states are not able to freely enter Maine at this time. The rules must be followed in the Keep Maine Healthy plan if a particular resident state is not exempted.

a group of people standing next to a bicycle

Don Littlefield of The Maine Brew Bus leads a couple on a recent Bike and Brews tour with Summer Feet Cycling in Portland.

Our neighbors to the north in Canada are certainly not coming to Maine as of now, as the entire U.S. and Canadian border is not currently open for leisure travel.

In some ways, this is the best summer ever in Maine. The weather has been tremendous with sunny days and warm (sometimes hot) daily temperatures. The lesser amount of visitors means the familiar traffic and parking issues are minimal for now. It’s easy to get around and visit places in Maine that might typically be too crowded at this time of year. In those cities and towns, lodging, dining, and activities are often open, albeit with new policies and restrictions in place.

a group of people sitting at a picnic table

Joe Doherty, co-owner of Brewery Extrava in Portland, chats with Maine Brew Bus guests about his brewery’s first year in operation.

For us at The Maine Brew Bus, our small buses remain parked for now. But, we are offering a wide range of open-air tours and activities that are available every day of the week. These are by land with walking, biking, and running tours, and by sea with many sailing and powerboat cruising options.

Some of these tours are our own creations that we have been delivering for several years now. Others are new variations on existing tours in order to bring our guests to more partner locations. We have also worked with many other tour providers to expand offerings by bike and by boat.

a person sitting on a boat

Zach Poole meets with Kate-Lyn Knight, co-owner of Rocky Bottom Tours, about ways to collaborate in this shortened season.

Before we decided to launch any tour operations this year, we created a comprehensive outline of Health and Safety policies that must be followed by all of our guests and staff. We constantly review them and make updates (noted with dates) when changes are made.

This actually starts well before a guest even books a tour, as everyone must be familiar with the up-to-date requirements in the Keep Maine Healthy plan.

a screenshot of a social media post

After booking, each guest in the party must complete an online waiver before arriving for the tour or activity. Every guest needs to self-certify that they acknowledge the requirements to comply with the Keep Maine Healthy plan.

Group size for tours is limited as well (not including guide/driver/crew): Up to 6 people on biking, running, and walking tours and up to 6 people on sailing boat tours and up to 13 or 18 people (vessel dependent) on larger boat tours.

a group of people standing next to a bicycle

A recent Bike and Brews tour visit to Oxbow Blending and Bottling in Portland, Maine.

Staff and guests will maintain a 6-foot distance between themselves as much as possible. Guests are required to wear face coverings while checking in, during the tour or activity, and anytime they are not at the designated table when at a brewery, winery, or distillery. This includes getting up just to take a picture, use the restroom, and to make additional purchases.

Of course, the delivery of samples is designed to limit direct sharing, and frequent handwashing and sanitizer use is encouraged throughout each tour.

a man standing in front of a brick building

A couple heads out on an Old Port Walk, Talk, and Taste tour from Old Port Spirits.

Our first tours under these policies were in mid-July. We have seen several dozen guests since then take part in our open-air tour options. Our observations are that once the guests are used to the requirements, the tour experience is fairly close to normal. After all, drinking craft alcohol products from local breweries, wineries, and distilleries is a lot of fun. This is true even if we are visiting them outside, or enjoying their drinks out on the water.

With these Health and Safety policies, we are striving to keep our guests, our staff, and tour partners happy and healthy.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera

We hope that you will safely be able to join us on a tour very soon. Cheers!

See the current Health and Safety policies for Maine Brew Bus tours here.

Don Littlefield is the General Manager of Brew Bus Tours. He enjoyed a melon-strawberry yogurt smoothie while preparing this post. Twitter: @BeerinME