On Saturday, June 27, Southampton Village will close both Main Street and Jobs Lane in Southampton to vehicles for the launch of Southampton in the Streets, a pilot program that encourages outside dining and commerce. The road closure will commence at 5:30 p.m., while Southampton in the Streets will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
“There was definitely popular demand from the business owners and business community. What we were hearing people say throughout the Coronavirus was that you had your elected officials and governor and county executives telling residents what to do, but no one’s actually listening to the residents about what they wanted,” Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren told us. “Ultimately, the business owners in the business community had approached us about some type of ability to increase outdoor seating for restaurants, have activities to do that were deemed maybe more safe, considering open air activities. The large majority of the business community is looking forward to this, is very excited about it.”
While some Southampton eateries already have outdoor seating, this will allow even more patrons to enjoy a meal al fresco. The Village hopes Southampton in the Streets offers “a safe, welcoming, pedestrian-only option for people to stroll, shop and dine in the heart of our beautiful village.”
There will be access to parking at the lot east of Lake Agawam during the road closure.
“This is a pilot program, we’re going to test out the closures of Main Street and Jobs Lane,” he noted. “If all goes well, this could be more of a common and a regular thing. I think everyone’s very excited.”
The evening will also include live music on the lawn of Southampton Arts Center who will also be presenting an outdoor sculpture exhibit. There will be a special area where children can channel their artistic side into chalk art or chat with ambassadors from the SHV Youth Committee. A local food truck can be found on Jobs Lane, while there will be a DJ on Main Street providing tunes throughout the night.
“Phase 3 starts on June 24, and the Governor is allowing restaurants to have indoor seating, but if there’s a real possibility of having all the seating outdoors, I think not only is it better and more fun, but it’s also safer as well,” Mayor Warren relayed. In Phase 3, eateries will be permitted to offer indoor dining at 50 percent capacity.
“It will kind of test things out to see what the strengths and weaknesses are of the of the program,” he noted about the June 27 pilot.
As both the restaurant and retail industries were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, Mayor Warren hopes Southampton in the Streets leads to a successful evening for local businesses. “Personally, from a business owner perspective, I’m very curious to see how this works out,” Mayor Warren, who owns Tenet, shared. “We’re going to keep our business open late in hopes that this will bring in new business from people walking around and shopping. Everyone looks at Sag Harbor and they see the businesses are open until 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night sometimes. We’ll see if this helps lead to an increase in business during the evening. I hope it will.”
With new spikes in Coronavirus cases across the country, and Long Island moving onto Phase 3 of re-opening, Mayor Warren stressed the importance of attendees taking the necessary precautions. “The safest thing to do, of course, is to wear a mask or face cover if you can’t social distance. Social distancing is really important as well, but as long as you’re walking around wearing a face cover, you have protected others,” he explained. “The concern that I’m seeing, and a lot of people are seeing, is that you see people walking around without a mask, you see restaurants who are doing everything they need to do to survive, but at the same time are not keeping their tables six feet apart.”
Mayor Warren continued, “You see those who are preempting the Phase 3 by doing the indoor seating. New York State has done very well because we’ve had very strict executive orders put in place by the Governor. For the large part, we’ve followed them. But if you look at other states, like Florida or Arizona, that opened up way too early, they’re seeing spikes that are new positive tests and new hospital admissions that are as high as they ever were.”
The confirmed Coronavirus cases in Suffolk County have significantly slowed pace. On Tuesday, June 24, of the 3,941 people tested, there were 45 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“Wearing face covers and masks are critical,” Mayor Warren stressed. “That’s going to be the new normal until we get a vaccine or until there’s rapid testing for everyone.”