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Sixty-Something: How Will The Hamptons Open Up For the Summer?

T.J. Clemente

A new sign marks the times. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

I have had a post office box in East Hampton for 16 years. I used to rent and move around so much it was just a stable way of getting my mail. I drove to East Hampton Village to get my mail this week from my up-island home early Sunday morning. When I entered East Hampton Town via Route 27E I noticed a sign proclaiming wearing a mask while walking in public in the town is mandatory. A new sign of the times.

Once I reached the Village of East Hampton it was quiet and there wasn't a car on Main Street or Newtown Road at 6:00 AM. I had to stop the car to photograph it. The town was dead quiet. I remember walking around one Christmas Eve in 2005, when I lived in the Village, and also noticing not one car as it snowed. It was the same feeling with one huge difference, this time the town is almost dead for real.

Not a car in sight. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

The coronavirus has come in force and now its immediate dangers are receding. I asked the East Hampton Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc some questions last week not about shutting East Hampton Town down for safety, but about opening it up and bringing it back to normalcy. A task with a daunting host of problems that will need "official solutions."

Standing literally in the middle of Main Street/Route 27 in East Hampton taking iPhone photos had me thinking when will all the shops and restaurants open up again? How will they open up? How will people be seated? How do you eat and wear a mask, and will the tables all be six feet apart? What will Starbucks be like under new safety rules?

Who hasn't had these very thoughts?

East Hampton Library. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

I stopped in front of the beautiful iconic East Hampton Library and admired the flowers. When I lived in the Village I enjoyed using the library almost daily. I filed my articles on the computers there back in 2004 - before I had wireless Internet in the home. There were always young children happily heading to their section followed by moms or dads. This morning there was still a "CLOSED" sign on the front door. Somewhere someone is figuring out how the library will deal with masks, safe spacing for children, adults and other issues when they finally reopen their doors.

Will The Palm/Hunting Inn and Maidstone Inn - who have been offering takeout during the crisis - have similar spacing issues for dinner seatings when they welcome patrons? Along with Rowdy Hall, Cittanuova, Sam's, Babette's, The 1770 House? What will Scoop du Jour do with those crazy summer evening lines for ice cream? It's mind-boggling.

When the movie theater opens up, will you have to wear masks? But then how do you munch on popcorn? All these questions will have to have practical solutions approved by the town before things open up. Just this week orange traffic cones were beginning to close off the parking lots of the town beaches, shades of what might happen at the beaches when Memorial Day rolls around and for safety beaches may have to be closed or somehow newly regulated.

The Maidstone is among eateries offering takeout. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

I am hoping my sailing season won't be affected by any new rules. Most of the time there are hardly any boats out during weekdays. Even on weekends there is plenty of safe spacing out in Gardiner's Bay for sailing and fishing.

This summer things in the Hamptons will not be the way they were last year. How different they will be is still an unknown, as is can businesses even survive under new town/state rules in a seasonal market with huge overhead?

There is one thing for certain; it's going to get hot, there's going to be lots of traffic, and somehow everyone is going to somehow enjoy their summertime. However, make no mistake about it, it's going to be different!

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