Popular islands and vacation spots, from Nantucket to Mykonos, are telling wealthy part-time residents and visitors to stay away during the coronavirus outbreak

John Greim/LightRocket/Getty ImagesCottage houses line Ocean Park on Martha’s Vineyard.
  • As the coronavirus spreads around the world, affluent urbanites are flocking to second homes and rentals in popular vacation destinations to escape outbreaks and self-isolate in comfort.
  • But year-round residents of these destinations are not particularly keen on welcoming city dwellers.
  • Many seasonal destinations, like Nantucket in Massachusetts and Mammoth Lakes in California, don’t have the medical resources necessary to deal with an influx of visitors and potential new coronavirus cases.
  • Responses from locals wishing to deter visitors have ranged from threatening to cut power chords to actually banning non-residents from arriving.
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New York City is currently the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. As a result, vacation and second home destinations throughout the northeast are seeing an influx of city dwellers looking to escape the outbreak and self-isolate in beautiful places.

REUTERS/Mike SegarA man crosses a nearly empty 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus on March 25, 2020.

New York Times

Year-round Hamptons residents have taken to social shaming in Facebook groups in an effort to deter city dwellers from visiting. “Our hospital is grossly understaffed and undersupplied for the amount of people that have decided to come out here recently,” one user wrote.

Miles Astray/Getty ImagesA beach house in the Hamptons.

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The Massachusetts Steamship Authority has released a joint statement with the hospitals on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket urging visitors and those with summer homes to stay away. The hospitals have 25 and 14 beds respectively and say that their capacity is “already strained.”

Alinn Mihai/ShutterstockAerial view of Martha’s Vineyard.

The Steamship Authority

Police on Block Island, a small community off the coast of Rhode Island, received reports on March 20 that locals were considering cutting power chords to discourage visitors. Four days later, the island issued an ordinance barring short-term rentals from accepting new reservations and requiring leisure visitors to leave.

quiggyt4.ShutterstockStairs lead to the Mohegan Bluffs and beach on Block Island.

Source:The Block Island Times, The Block Island Times

On March 30, mayors of 16 municipalities in Cape May, New Jersey, released a statement urging the Governor to ban short-term rentals.

Racheal Grazias/ShutterstockView of Cape May, New Jersey, from the water.

Source:The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cape May County

On the West Coast, California city dwellers have fled to remote communities in the mountains and deserts despite the state-wide shelter-in-place order, the Los Angeles time reported.

Getty ImagesDowntown San Francisco.

Source:Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times

This past weekend, Mono County instituted road checks to make sure only locals are travelling to the area. The county is home to popular Mono Lake and Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra on the border of Nevada and is served by just two receiving hospitals with 17 and 23 beds each.

melissamn/ShutterstockView from the Twin Lakes Overlook in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Source:Los Angeles Times, Mono County

Joshua Tree has also dealt with an influx of urban visitors. While the desert destination east of LA typically draws weekenders, now short-term rentals are being booked up for weeks at a time, according to the Los Angeles Times. To enforce social distancing, Joshua Tree National Park, the area’s main attraction, closed to the public on April 1.

Dejan Stanisavljevic/ShutterstockJoshua Tree National Park.

Source:Los Angeles Times, National Park Service

Countries and cities across Europe are imposing similar restrictions. On March 22, Greece barred non-residents from taking ferries to local islands. To help enforce the nationwide shutdown imposed the following day, the country has employed surveillance drones and helicopters.

Sven Hansche/ShutterstockView of Mykonos, one of the Greek islands.

Ferries to islands in the Scottish Highlands also closed to everyone but islanders and essential personnel on March 22 after the scenic area was inundated with visitors.

phildaint/ShutterstockThe Isle of Skye off the coast of Scotland.

Source:Caledonian MacBrayne; CNN

In Norway last month, thousands of urbanites flocked to remote cabins in the forest and mountains looking to self-isolate. On March 19, the country banned residents from travelling to cabins, instituting a fine of 15,000 kr ($1,364 USD) for those that don’t obey.

Mr. Max/ShutterstockMany Norwegians that live in cities own or travel to cabins in the countryside.

Source:Reuters, Norwegian Government, Visit Norway

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