NANTUCKET (CBS) – If you’re a seasonal resident of Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard, the islands have a request: please, stay at home.
In the age of social distancing, many are choosing to work from home at their summer homes on Nantucket. “When you see 10 cars coming off the ferry that have non Massachusetts plates, you assume it’s happening all the time,” said Nantucket Board of Selectmen member Jason Bridges. “So the fear is real.”
Bridges also owns a coffee shop on the island and so far, has shut down during the pandemic but is reevaluating.
With two commercial grocery stores on the island and one small hospital, the board is asking the governor to allow the statewide stay home order to be stricter on Nantucket.
In a letter voted on unanimously to be sent to Governor Baker, the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard Boards of Selectmen wrote, “many summer residents returned to the Islands when the COVID-19 outbreak intensified in various areas of the country. Similarly, many students and other permanent residents of the Islands have returned. It is estimated that there are hundreds more people on each of the Islands now than there were 30 days ago.”
The boards asked the government to allow them to halt construction work on the islands for the time being, despite construction being considered an “essential” function in the statewide emergency order. The islands’ governments argue the construction crews coming in and out of the islands contribute to the spread of the virus.
In addition to the boards’ concern, Nantucket Cottage Hospital has joined the conversation asking residents to stay home. “We love our part time residents,” said Jason Graziadei, a spokesperson for the hospital. “We rely on them. But they are really safer staying where they are. If they have a choice…we are asking them to make the choice to stay off the island at this time.”
“We only have three respirators,” Jason Bridges added. “We only have so many beds. No ICU. We have no mutual aid. We have no resources in the town over we could use, whether it’s law enforcement, EMTs…it’s just us.”
The boards of selectmen voted 5-0 to send the letter to Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday. You can read a full copy here.