Supplies struggle: Wealthy Manhattan residents descend on East End early due to COVID-19

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The coronavirus outbreak has prompted many Manhattan residents to head out east to their summer homes to try and weather the storm.

Gail Simmons likened the influx of city residents in the Hamptons to "locusts" that "stripped everything bare." The lifelong South Fork resident says people like her are used to a summer tourism boom, but this was much different.

Many year-round East End residents have been laid off and are having trouble finding food and basic supplies because they say they were gobbled up by the wealthy.

"I don't think anybody wants to say that they're not allowed to be here. They own their houses and they pay taxes. But, they're secondary homeowners and we've got a whole primary community out there that's just existing," says Simmons.

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Realtor Vincent Abbate says people across his profession are getting inundated with calls and emails from city residents all with the same message: "We need to move in immediately."

"They want to escape the city and hunker down for the next one to two months to figure out where this thing is going to lead," says Abbate.

For businesses in the Hamptons, this is a slow time of year to begin with, and the health scare made it even worse. But with out-of-towners arriving, they're seeing an increase.

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"Our business was typically 50/50, eat in and takeout," says Keith Davies, owner of The Golden Pear. "So all the eat-in business is gone. But the takeout business did increase by the Manhattanites, customers that we don't see really until summertime."

If this trend continues through summer, locals hope everyone finds a way to coexist.

"I'm not saying that we're not grateful that they come out and spend a lot of money," says Simmons. "But this is just not the time."

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