LONG ISLAND - Photos from years past show ferries filled to capacity with partiers headed to Fire Island Pines, a popular party spot for the LGBTQ+ community typically packed with people looking to celebrate summer.
PJ McAteer, managing director of Fire Island Pines had to delay the start of the season by about a month.
“In my 16 years doing business in the community we’ve had a lot of challenges we’ve gotten through,” he said. “This is probably the most difficult.”
The dance club and happy hour spot which would typically welcome hundreds throughout the day and into the wee hours of the morning now sits vacant. A high-end Italian dining restaurant caps at 50-percent and is borrowing space from what would’ve been another nightclub.
“We are asking people to wear a mask when they’re standing and when they’re sitting at a table they can remove the mask,” said McAteer.
The one hotel on the property heavily sanitizes before, during, and after each guest's stay. Four people are only allowed inside retail stores at a time.
Because of COVID-19, business in the commercial district including the gym, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars in Fire Island Pines is down about 80-percent. Real estate is doing significantly better especially with people looking to escape the busy city.
“There are a lot of people here but they are choosing to stay home and practice their own social distancing,” McAteer said.
The beach underwent a replenishment which bodes well for people looking to social distance. July Fourth for McAteer is typically the busiest weekend of the summer. While he’s sold out based on this year’s capacity he hopes better days lie ahead.
“We are going to survive, we’re going to move past this and we are going to celebrate this in the future,” he said.