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Coronavirus US: New Yorkers flee the city for Montauk Beach

Shocking video footage from Montauk beaches on Friday showed large crowds packed onto the sand despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as residents continue to flee New York City. 

The Long Island getaway destination has been heaving with visitors and tourists from around the state in the past few weeks as New Yorkers look to vacation closer to home to avoid a fourteen-day quarantine. 

A two-week mandatory isolation period is still in place for travelers arriving to New York state from 34 other states and Puerto Rico where the virus is less contained – although ‘checkpoints’ in New York City remained unmanned Thursday despite a stern warning from Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

It comes as wealthy New Yorkers remain out in their Hamptons and Montauk getaways, buying up mansions and avoiding having to return to the Big Apple over continued health fears. 

They have been joined more recently by masses of city residents looking for a weekend getaway and crowding up beaches, despite advice from health authorities to continue social distancing, as the pandemic enters its seventh tumultuous month. 

Video footage from Montauk Beach showed a sea of umbrellas along the sand ahead of the weekend, with large groups clustered together and ignoring social distancing protocols. 

Clusters of people were also in the water while private parts of the beach were less crowded. 

None of the people seen in the video were wearing masks as they walked among the different groups of people.   

It is not unusual for Manhattan to clear out for the month of August, when temperatures between the skyscrapers soar and send many fleeing to Long Island’s beaches or further afield. 

But this summer, with the ongoing lack of appeal in the city, the likelihood that people will come back in the fall is shrinking. 

Many of New York’s wealthy residents fled months ago – taking their disposable income and their tax dollars with them – and there are fears they may never come back. 

By May, around 420,000 of New York City’s wealthiest residents left and set up home in the Hamptons, where they look set to remain for the forseeable future. 

They’ve ignored Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pleas to return to the Big Apple to help offset the projected $30billion deficit over the next two years. 

As well as the struggling New York City economy and stricter lockdown restrictions, the wealthy have also been attracted to remain in their summer rentals for longer as coronavirus cases remain low compared to NYC, which was once the global epicenter of the outbreak. 

According to Indy East End, East Hampton had recorded 235 total cases as of Thursday while Southampton had 1,116, minimal numbers compared to the hundreds of thousands reported in NYC.   

Yet Suffolk County, where Montauk and The Hamptons are located has the second highest number of cases in the state, following only NYC. 

It had 43,681 cases as of Friday.  

In the Hamptons, the rich have caused a surge in the local real estate market by buying additional mansions as well, as they continue to maintain their Botox appointments and hire security guards to closely monitor private beach entrance from gatecrashers.  

The recent rush of visitors to the Long Island beaches, however, has come as New York residents fear having to undergo a 14-day quarantine if they travel outside of the state.  

De Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo are enforcing checkpoints to stop tourists from 34 COVID hotspot states from entering the city without quarantining for two weeks. 

The hotspot states are: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin; plus the US territory of Puerto Rico.    

From Thursday, the checkpoints opened to register visitors and residents returning from the nearly three dozen states – an initiative that drew swift criticism from privacy advocates.

The checkpoints, targeting busy entry points like Penn Station, are more of an awareness campaign than a blockade, intended to preserve the city’s progress in reducing its COVID-19 infection rate and forestall a second wave as the coronavirus ravages other states.

Authorities said this week a fifth of all new coronavirus cases in New York City have been from travelers entering the city from other states.

The random checks are similar to an effort already in place at airports and includes offers of free food delivery and in some cases even hotel stays for people who must quarantine.

‘If we’re going to hold at this level of health and safety in this city and get better, we have to deal with the fact that the quarantine must be applied consistently to anyone who’s traveled,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Despite the specter of fines, the checkpoints are more educational than punitive, and officials acknowledged the effort relies on voluntary compliance.

‘We’re not going to be in everyone’s apartment monitoring them,’ de Blasio added. ‘Even if we’re not going to be able to reach every single person with a checkpoint, I think it’s going to help really get the message across.’

Teams began stopping travelers arriving in the city by train Thursday, requiring they complete a state Department of Health traveler form and warning they could face fines as high as $10,000 for failing to quarantine.

The checkpoints don’t involve the police, but the city’s Sheriff’s Office, which enforces civil law, said it would pull over motorists at random on city bridges. 

Yet on Thursday morning, pictures of the checkpoints in main thoroughfare Port Authority showed them unmanned and travelers breezing into the city without being registered. 

Baffled passengers approached a desk themselves to collect a form but then left the station without completing it or handing it back to anyone. 

At Penn Station, Department of Health volunteers handed out the forms like flyers then let people walk out of the station without taking down their details. 

The travelers were asked if they’d come from out of state but no tickets were checked to ensure people were being honest and there was no one collecting completed forms before letting people leave the station. 

There was also no one at the Holland Tunnel, which connects New Jersey and New York, either. 

On Wednesday night, sheriffs were seen stopping cars on the Goethals Bridge, which connects New Jersey and Staten Island, at random.  

The police scanned plates at random then questioned the drivers before letting them go. It is unclear what questions they asked or if they took anyone’s details – deputies at the scene refused to answer questions or allow motorists to be interviewed about it.  

On Friday, Gov. Cuomo confirmed there were were 714 new cases of coronavirus in New York state, bringing the total number to 419,642. There were new cases reported in 44 counties. 

The state also reported five new deaths bring the total death toll to 25,190. 

Cuomo warned against complacency, however, as the infection rate continues to grow.  

‘Our performance is extraordinary in this sea of spread around us. Our numbers are great because we’re doing what we need to do – the quarantine procedures are all in place and we’re enforcing compliance,’ he said.

‘But we cannot become complacent, especially as infection rates continue to surge. We must protect the progress we’ve made in New York, and it’s going to take the work of all of us to keep wearing our masks, socially distancing and staying New York Tough.’

New York City reported 223,473 cases as of Thursday with 18,938 confirmed deaths and 4,625 probably deaths.  

The affluent New York City residents who fled to the Hamptons during the COVID-19 pandemic are spending their days getting $1,500 Botox, hiring security to guard beaches and buying even more mansions.

As the pandemic continued into a seventh tumultuous month this August, the rattled economy and health fears have done little to sway the wealthy New Yorkers who have camped out in the Hamptons.

By May, around 420,000 of New York City’s wealthiest residents left and their absence was cemented with the arrival of anti-racism protests in June. 

They’ve ignored Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pleas – and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s  chiding – to return to the Big Apple to help offset the projected $30billion deficit over the next two years.

Instead, Vanity Fair reports that they’ve been spending money on cosmetic surgeries at the luxurious Topping House spa.

Dr. Dennis Gross, a notable New York City dermatologist with an office on Fifth Avenue, told the publication he set up a satellite location in Bridgehampton.

With 30 percent of his clientele already in the Hamptons, Gross told patients in an email that he was limiting services to ‘Botox and fillers’ when he arrived.

The demand from wealthy patients, according to Gross, was so large that it took only five weeks to clear his waiting schedule.

Meanwhile, some residents have gone as far as to hire security to safeguard certain beach entrances from others.

A private road association in the Dunes in Amagansett, a small district near the ocean, reportedly considered hiring professional security guards to stand at the end of the street and prevent others from reaching the beach using their road.

It’s not unusual for street associations to hire teenagers in the summer to make sure private paths are only used by residents, but Vanity Fair reports that the reason this time was to protect residents health. 

In the end, the street associated settled on hiring bouncers from a local bar. 

In an email chain, residents reportedly said they were actually helping unemployed residents during the pandemic.

In the Hamptons, the rich also have caused a surge in the local real estate market by buying additional mansions. 

Several Hamptonites have reportedly been ‘compounding,’ which mean families buy two or three eight-figure homes on the same street for their family children or family members.

‘With so many adult kids leaving the city and moving into their parents’ homes, people feel they need more room,’ a Hampton real estate agent told Vanity Fair.

‘They can see this could be a long-term gig, having the kids live here with them. I have one client with a $10 million main house buying another one with a whopping price tag next door for the kids…. I have another client who’s trading up—from a $5 million home to a $10 million one.’

The second-quarter report from Corcoran showed closed sales surged 21 percent on South Fork. 

A number of deals totaling to more than $15million caused a 292 percent increase in sales volume in the Village of East Hampton.

‘There’s no inventory. We’ve never had a market like this before,’ the agent said.

‘In every price range: $750,000 to $10 million deals are ending in a bidding war and tears.’

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