Maybe it’s the allure of spring. Or perhaps some city-dwellers are seeking open spaces amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Whatever the reason, many New Yorkers have been flocking out East, launching the Hamptons season nearly two months ahead of schedule this year.
“This past Saturday was almost like the Fourth of July in terms of the number of people out and about,” says Nancy Kane, a year-round resident of Southampton Village who is preparing Hamptons coverage for Avenue‘s May/June issue.
“Distance six feet apart,” she added. “No one was in groups!”
Homeowners have kept local contractors busy as they open their houses early. One common request, in the chilly early spring, is for pools to be heated to a warm 80 degrees for swimming, we hear.
And while Kane confirms that everyone is being courteous regarding their toilet paper purchases (one package per person at CVS!), the New York Post reports that fine food and wine purveyors have been especially busy. “We usually expect this influx when homes open up,” she says. “That’s usually Memorial Day Weekend. [Instead] that’s happening now. But everything seems to be working out.”
But don’t equate “Hamptons season” with “party season.” Both part- and full-time residents are practicing responsible social distancing.
Essential local businesses, such as supermarkets and drug stores, are doing their best to support residents while also making sure to protect their employees. Some are running on reduced hours in order to limit person-to-person interactions.
Meanwhile, popular restaurants are offering delivery and pickup, with some even walking food out to their customers’ cars.
Thing are so busy, in fact, the rental market might even be tighter than usual this year. One prominent Hamptons realtor said there has been a large increase in summer rentals, especially for immediate occupancy.
An unexpected complication is that with international travel reduced, many homeowners are choosing to stay Stateside this summer, and thus are not renting out their homes.
“We have to call each individually, to check and see if plans have changed and availability,” said the realtor, who asked to speak without attribution.
Nancy Kane added: “If everyone stays for the summer, and we get through this crisis together, it could be a very big season for the Hamptons.”