For many driving through Sag Harbor Village Thursday night, what would have been expected to be sleepy March evening felt more akin to an average weekend night — streets busy with people ducking into restaurants, bars and stores. On Sunday, residents reported struggling to find parking on Main Street, sidewalks crammed with people taking in a sunny spring day.
The scene unfolded less than a week after it was announced that Suffolk County had its first case of COVID-19, a number that jumped to 20 people infected, including an East Hampton woman, which was announced on Thursday. On Sunday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced all school districts would be closed in the county for two weeks beginning on Monday, March 16.
“The amount of people walking around the streets of the village today is obscene,” Sag Harbor Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said on Sunday afternnoon.
Both Ms. Mulcahy and Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Austin J. McGuire asked people in Sag Harbor to practice social distancing and to stay home. While many restaurants are open for business, Ms. Mulcahy toured village restaurants with Sgt. Kenneth Maragino and deputy mayor Thomas Gardella on Sunday afternoon to ensure eateries were practicing social distancing policies recommended by the Department of Health. She said many are offering take-out services through delivery or curb-side pickup.
Ms. Mulcahy said law enforcement would continue regular sweeps through the village business district to ensure restaurants were complying with social distancing recommendations and sent a letter to some local businesses and institutions Sunday asking for their help.
“I know many of you have already voluntarily closed and /or limited your public access,” wrote Ms. Mulcahy. “We appreciate that. Starting tomorrow public interaction at Village Hall will be severely limited to only Justice Court proceedings and dropping off of paperwork under an isolation protocol. The more social distancing and self-quarantine we can encourage, the better we will all fare.
“Today Deputy Mayor Tom Gardella and I, along with Sag Harbor police officers, visited every food establishment in the village reiterating the need to cut their capacity down to 50 percent of what is allowed and requesting other specific changes,” she continued. “Many establishments had already complied with this directive and those that hadn’t were responsive and promised immediate compliance. Many are also offering take out and will deliver to cars if requested.”
The Village of Sag Harbor will hold its tax sale tomorrow as scheduled, but Ms. Mulcahy said it has cancelled its zoning board of appeals meeting for Tuesday night and that village hall will only accept documents and requests via email or in hard copies that can be dropped off in bins at village hall. Those documents will be set aside for two days, said Ms. Mulcahy, to ensure village staff are not being potentially exposed to the virus.
“We will not be having any face-to-face meetings at this time,” said the mayor, adding future village board meetings will be determined as news surrounding the COVID-19 virus unfolds.
On Sunday, Chief McGuire encouraged people to stay home, noting all of the positive cases for COVID-19 in Suffolk County have come from person-to-person transmission and were not the result of someone coming back to the United States from abroad.
“This is an unprecedented situation,” said Chief McGuire. “I am confident we will get through this, but we have to take this day-by-day.”