Patience Urged During Expected Busy Summer Season

Courtesy of Peter Schmeck

HYANNIS – In light of the recent announcement from Governor Charlie Baker that the state will fully lift COVID restrictions on May 29, the Cape Cod COVID Response Task Force said that it’s moving towards a safe summer reopening on Cape Cod. 

“We have done a phenomenal job in vaccinating residents, including our frontline work force. And we may beat our goal of having 75 percent of the region’s population vaccinated with a first dose vaccination by the height of the summer season,” said Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr, a member of the task force. 

That 75 percent goal was chosen, said Cyr, because it would provide strong protection from the virus for the Cape’s workforce, especially those working in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Sixty-nine percent of Cape Codders and 81 percent of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard residents have received at least one dose, according to the state’s latest report released Thursday.

Cyr warned prospective travelers to still remember to bring their masks, as both individual towns and businesses can still require them, even if state guidance has relaxed. 

Cyr believes small retail stores with little indoor space will likely opt to continue mask requirements.

He also said that travelers and residents alike should be respectful to employees and a community still recovering from a pandemic.

“The second thing that we’re asking you to pack is kindness and patience,” said Cyr. 

“The region does have a workforce shortage. It’s going to take a little bit longer to get that lobster roll or that ice cream cone or whatever you’re looking to get.”

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross also echoed Cyr’s request for patience and preparation to follow any local safety guidelines. 

She said that legislative efforts are also underway to extend the temporary permits allowing restaurants to serve alcohol outdoors in order to help economic recovery. 

Currently, the permits are set to expire mid-August, according to Northcross. 

Cyr said that he also supported the extension of the permits through the year, or longer, in order to provide predictability to businesses struggling after over a year of pandemic.

Barnstable County Health and Environment Director Sean O’Brien said that the county will continue hosting vaccination clinics at different times outside of usual business hours in order to allow the final portions of the population that want a dose to receive one.

More clinics with schools to get those 12 and older are also being planned by the department, according to O’Brien. 

Testing services will be available through the summer and fall, as well. 

“We don’t look at this as necessarily being done,” said O’Brien. 

“We did have 39 cases over the last three days. That really says to us ‘yeah, coronavirus is still out there.’” 

Task force members stressed the importance of getting vaccinated in order to maximize protection against the virus. 

As the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel approaches, the task force said it will reevaluate how often it meets and where it will direct its focus as other regional challenges loom, such as the housing crisis.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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