Usually this time of year there are few visitors to the Cape, but this March is different.
Scott Brookshire manages the Eastham Superette and has been extra busy. “They're coming down in droves," he said. "There’s a lot of people here that we usually see in the summer. They're hunkering down here on the Cape instead of hunkering down at home.”
Brookshire said so far he has been able to keep his shelves stocked, but it could get harder, especially with restaurants closing. He said his produce supplier told him to expect more people buying produce, and to stock up.
Shawn DaLude owns Nauset Disposal, which provides trash and recycling pickups up and down the Cape. He has seen many of his seasonal customers starting service much earlier than usual. He said they tell him they’re coming to the Cape to escape the more densely populated areas where they’re from.
One of those seeking solace at Coast Guard Beach was Leslie Barr of Connecticut. She said she had just taken what she called “a lovely run” by the ocean, even getting her feet wet. She said getting to her summer home was a nice escape from what is happening at home.
"I just think it's wonderful here," she said. "Everyone here is kind of cheerful, though they do keep a distance, the six foot thing."
While many are stuck at home with their kids these days, the open space on the Cape gives families something to do, at least on a sunny day. The National Seashore Visitors Center is closed, but Phil Wright took to the trails with his 2-year-old daughter.
“It's a little less hectic than where we're from in Connecticut right now. There's not as much crowding in the stores and a little bit slower pace for us and there's a lot more to do outside and since we've got a little one, it's better for her to be able to run around outdoors,” Wright said.'
And, he joked, an added bonus is that the Superette still has toilet paper for sale.
On Nantucket, there is concern about more people coming to the island earlier than usual, and the potential strain on infrastructure that might cause. Assistant Town Manager Gregg Tivnan told WGBH News there’s been a request by many on the island and some select board members to explore the idea of limiting the amount of people that come. But Tivnan said the ferry services are not in favor of that move, especial since many reservations have already been made, though they have said they would consider the Island’s request.
Still, some visitors are being turned away. The Cape is also home to many elderly residents, and many of them are in assisted living centers and nursing homes that are dramatically reducing visitors.
Maureen Kalivas, who runs The Terraces in Orleans, said they have restricted all visitation, except in end-of life-cases. And even then, all visitors have to be screened. She said those restrictions have come with an emotional cost.
"I think that's been the most difficult piece. We have families that visit on a daily basis and that kind of comforts the residents. Without the visitation, it's made it difficult. There are a couple of people that we're trying to have them use Facetime with their children," Kalivas said.
Beyond fears about contagion, Tivnan said with the Island’s big Daffodil Festival and Town Meeting already postponed, the greater concern is about the tourism season ahead.
“We're definitely concerned ... with the governor's order closing restaurants and limiting groups to under 25. That's a hit, and we know that if that extends into our early season that's going to have a big impact.”