The Hamptons are so over-run with wealthy New Yorkers panic-buying food and stretching medical supplies that local leaders are now asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue a travel ban from the city.
The move comes after Dr. Deborah Birx, of the White House coronavirus response team, said at a press conference this week with President Donald Trump that cases of the virus were spreading from New York City with people trying to flee the epicenter of the virus.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said, “A new trend is taking place that puts our residents at further risk — people seeking refuge from the metropolitan areas. It is simple math: the more people that come, the greater the spread and the greater the confirmed cases.”
Amid alarming scenes of empty shelves in Hamptons stores and people lining up at 6 a.m. to grab basic supplies as deliveries arrive, he said, “We have a limited number of stores trying to keep their shelves stocked and ration out supplies as best they can. Local residents are finding it difficult to meet even their most basic needs. Unnecessary hoarding and the recent, sudden expansion of the population by those who come are making it far worse.”
Russell told Page Six by phone on Friday that he and the East End Mayors and Supervisors Association — representing all big towns out East — were urging Cuomo to issue a travel ban on all non-urgent journeys to the East End. And those who had recently arrived must quarantine inside for 14 days. He said, “We are not trying to tell those who have summer homes to stay away, this is about the people who really have no attachment to the community.
“There’s an influx of people we’ve never seen before. This is putting unnecessary stress on local resources and potentially on hospitals out East, which are very well managed, but have a limited supply of equipment.”
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who penned the letter to Cuomo on Friday, said he believes that already more than half of the summer homes — normally vacant this time of year — are occupied, doubling the local population. He said, “People out here are concerned that our hospitals and supermarkets will not be able to meet the needed demand if our population continues to surge. We are all doing everything we can to reduce new cases of Covid-19, but that is very challenging when new people are constantly entering the community from the NY Metropolitan area, an epicenter for the coronavirus.”
They acted after Dr. Birx said in a press conference with President Trump on Tuesday of New Yorkers fleeing the coronavirus epicenter, “Everybody who was in New York [City] should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure the virus doesn’t spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina, or out to the far reaches of Long Island. We’re starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggest people have left the city. This will be very critical.”
The Post had earlier reported how wealthy people who flocked to the Hamptons to escape the coronavirus have been ransacking grocery stores in epic shopping sprees that are costing thousands of dollars a pop.
Since COVID-19 hit Long Island’s tony beach towns last week, its residents have been lining up for groceries and other essentials as they prepare to hunker down at home. But unlike in other parts of the country, Hamptonites are dropping massive amounts of money as they clean up on high-end goods, like salmon, steaks and rare bottles of wine, sources said.
“I had one customer spend $8,000,” said Joe Gurrera, founder of upscale supermarket chain Citarella. “You know when you see someone with a full shopping cart? Now they have five.
The well-heeled shoppers are buying “pretty much everything they can,” said Gurrera, whose stores are known for carrying gourmet goods. “Instead of asking for one or two steaks on a tray, a customer will buy the whole tray. Then they’ll move on to shrimp, and buy all the shrimp, and then they’ll buy all the salmon steaks.”
“Once they’re done demolishing the meat and fish section, they move on to the prepared foods, Gurrera said. “Instead of asking for a slice of lasagna, they’ll buy all of it. Then they’ll buy all of our root vegetables,” he added.
“Business is insane. We are doing far more business than in July and August,” said Gurrera, who has four stores in Manhattan, three in the Hamptons and one in Greenwich, Connecticut. “People are spending thousands of dollars at a time.”