Hamptons Leaders Appeal for Travel Restrictions to the Area Amid Influx of New Yorkers

Year-round residents are scared New Yorkers will bring the virus from the city, and say the newcomers are stocking up on scarce resources

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Local leaders in the Hamptons are set to ask the governor to tell New Yorkers to stay away from the seaside destination, as tensions rise between residents and those fleeing New York City from the coronavirus outbreak.

Supervisors from four towns on the upmarket Long Island stretch are crafting a letter destined for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, appealing for him to impose restrictions on non-essential travel or visitors to the eastern communities of Long Island.

Southampton Town supervisor Jay Schneiderman said, two weeks ago, New York City residents started pouring into the Hamptons area -- with at least half of the summer homes already occupied. Some are also taking day trips. Year-round residents are frightened that the virus was being brought out to the region, he said. In the last few days they'd seen the number of cases go from two to 58.

Schneiderman said there are only three hospitals on the east end of Long Island, and he's worried the influx could tax those hospitals dealing with the virus. He wants all New York City residents coming to the Hamptons to self-quarantine for 14 days, in line with federal guidance earlier this week.

The plea to the governor comes amid reports of mounting tensions between New Yorkers who have the luxury of retreating to their second homes in The Hamptons -- fleeing the outbreak of coronavirus -- and those who live in the area year round.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that a backlash had grown in the region as wealthy people fled to summer homes to avoid the densely packed city. Tensions were playing out in "venom-laced" social media posts, many accusing the city-dwellers of emptying out grocery shelves.

NBC New York spoke to year-round resident Philip King Thursday, who said there has been a run on supermarkets and pharmacies. "It's already like July in March," King said.

However some local business owners felt restricting New Yorkers was wrong, and bad for business. One restaurant owner told NBC New York that it was wrong to tell New Yorkers not to come out, as they own houses too and have a right to visit them, even if it is their second home. He said those people were helping local businesses by coming out.

Four of the five superintendents from the east end of Long Island support the letter. Shelter Island is yet to sign. While Schneiderman realizes restrictions might be hard to enforce, he says he thinks people will self-restrict.

Meanwhile, asked Thursday morning about a travel restriction in an upstate state community, Cuomo said “counties can come with whatever suggestions they want. I’m not, I don’t have any travel ban on my agenda.”

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