"The phones have started ringing again" at Cape Cod hotels and businesses as Massachusetts continues to reopen from the coronavirus shutdowns, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross said Tuesday.
Business isn't exactly booming just yet, but people are starting to make reservations at the Cape's many hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts in anticipation of the state announcing that it will move into Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which includes lodging and restaurants, as early as next week.
Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to announce Saturday when Phase 2 will begin. If the public health data continues to trend in the right direction, that could be as soon as June 8.
"We're really hoping for June 8. A lot of businesses are planning for June 8," Northcross said during a Small Business and the COVID-19 Crisis webinar hosted by NBC10 Boston's Brian Shactman.
Under Phase 2, hotels will be able to reopen, with cleaning and social distancing protocols. This also includes short-term rentals, but Northcross said many of them may not reopen until June 13 since their rentals usually change over on Saturday.
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"It's been a pretty terrifying spring, to be honest with you," Northcross said, with many people who had booked hotels, motels and cottages canceling or moving vacations to later in the year.
She said business could be off by 50 percent this year on the Cape due to the pandemic.
But Northcross said things have started to pick up since Baker announced last week that lodging establishments and restaurants will be able to reopen soon.
"There's a lot of June business that's being booked," Northcross said. "What's interesting about June is school. In the past, we had Memorial Day, then a lull, then school would get out. But school is out. Kids aren't tethered to a school building."
She said the beaches are open. Many of them never closed because they are part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and are federal parks and the crowds were small enough because it was still cold out. State beaches like Scusset and South Cape were affected but have since reopened with social distancing and other restrictions.
The bathrooms at town beaches are also expected to reopen in Phase 2, hopefully along with the visitor centers. They will have specific protocols for safety, maintenance and cleaning.
Rainy day activities could be an issue, as most movie theaters won't be reopening any time soon. But Northcross said malls and drive-in movie theaters like the one in Wellfleet are included in Phase 2, with capacity limits.
"It's going to be a very different summer, but we will have a summer," she said. "There's still plenty of time to get away. Cape Cod's been a respite for generations and that's not going to change."
For more on the reopening of Cape Cod, go to reopeningcapecod.com.