By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – They’re breathing just a bit easier down on Cape Cod after a surge of bookings and a busy start to July.

But according to Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce “this will still be a struggle. Businesses may be able to survive because we do have a summer, but it won’t be profitable.”

The spring was a disaster, as revenue-starved businesses had to shell out for COVID-19-related changes, and the foreign tourists who often boost the shoulder seasons were no-shows.

But there was a bright side, said Northcross. “Home buying is reaching a fevered pitch on Cape Cod right now,” as wealthy visitors discover the joys of working remotely and year-round amid the Cape’s natural beauty.

But that could be bad news for less-affluent locals who’ve been struggling to afford housing.

“We’re looking very closely at what happens with commercial real estate,” says Northcross. “Are there going to be opportunities to perhaps turn commercial properties into new, innovative and interesting housing that’s more affordable?”

And whatever else the new normal brings, the future will include better Cape access over the new canal bridges, which Northcross celebrates, but with a warning. “If everyone wants to come to Cape Cod at the same time on a holiday weekend you’re still gonna have to plan well, and know there will probably be a little bit of tie-up,” she says.

And perhaps there’s another silver lining in this cloudy picture of the Cape’s future.

At the end of our interview, I jokingly asked Northcross if there’s any way the virus could address the shark problem along the Cape’s beaches, and she jokingly said they’ve wondered the same thing. But it turns out there is evidence that the seals which attract the sharks can be infected with coronavirus in some cases.

Jon Keller

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