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Sixty-Something: The Road Back To Normalcy In The Hamptons

T.J. Clemente

Will yard BBQ's with neighbors, family etc. still be the same? How will weddings, funerals, birthdays, and huge charity galas be impacted? (Photo: TJ Clemente)

The East End of Long Island is special. Residents and visitors alike recognize this. The East End has a fascinating history that includes the British Army not leaving the area until over two years after the Revolutionary War actually ended. Obviously after the fighting they must have enjoyed those last two summers before heading to fight in India. This year we all have been in a unique war against COVID-19, the Coronavirus. A war that has brought a change to the patterns we live our lives and may moving forward.

For the last few weeks I have been privileged to write about the wonderful volunteers who have pitched in to help the fight. Folks sending dinners to hospitals, others providing food to those who needed it, people using their skills to make masks and others helping deliver to and drive others who needed some neighborly assistance. It was all pure Long Island Proud stuff.

Official reports now indicate perhaps the worst of the war on this deadly virus is behind us and maybe we have turned a corner and it's time to begin to pick up the pieces and return to normalcy. No ones quite knows what normalcy will be, because the whole world has changed since this pandemic. There will be safety measures in play for quite some time, including occupancy in restaurants, bars, theaters and beaches. All these decisions are going to be financially painful to various people for obvious reasons.

This week Governor Cuomo announced the reopening of golf courses and boat marinas. This means my sailboat will be in the water for the 2020 season in a reasonable time! The golfing thing is a bit different. Golf carts - for the time being - are banned and folks have to carry/cart their own clubs. Being 67-years-old I know a few older golfers who this might be a health issue for, and others just a major inconvenience. Yet, in the in between seasons I have seen all golfers do such - when the carts are gone and caddies not available. I am sure the opening of outdoor tennis clubs must be near also, of course with new with safety protocols.

How about the restaurants, the theaters like Guild Hall, Bay Street, Quogue Community Hall, and the North Fork Community Theater, along with the Southampton Cultural Center - not to mention all the movie houses? How will spacing, safety face masks, eating popcorns, sipping soft drinks, etc. be dealt with? At first, I am guessing it just can't be as open as it was before. Perhaps supermarkets will once again not have rows of empty shelves.

Then there is the issue of who, how, what, when and where, for the new safety Coronavirus testing measures and what will be needed to go to the many places like beaches - whose parking lots are overflowing all summer weekends? Again, issues to be dealt with for a new normalcy. The East End has been lucky the towns are not enforcing the closure order Govenor Cuomo ordered during the early spring. The usual dog walkers, joggers, and surfers have pretty much gone unimpeded by the local authorities. When the weather temperatures start going way up and more crowds head to the beaches there will be a new stricter enforcement, if not actual closures, until new enforceable protocols are put in place by the East End towns. Where I live the parking lot is already padlocked, so drastic measures can be done.

Lastly, but most importantly, how will we all interact with each other? Will yard BBQ's with neighbors, family etc. still be the same? How will weddings, funerals, birthdays, and huge charity galas be impacted? No doubt they will with some sort of safe spacing in effect, if they are allowed at all? Not to mention regulating our behaviors in towns, in shops, in churches and in children's parks and public pools after we are allowed out of our homes in mass.

The beauty is there is a special tough grit to do things smartly - to live life fully, to keep our environment pristine and beautiful. I am sure in the end we can work this out, we will all get it safely right.

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