Cape Cod has been hit hard by the pandemic, with many businesses struggling economically amid another spike in COVID-19 cases driven by variants.
“It’s been hard, a lot of prayer,” said Joe Giampietro, who owns Beth's Bakery and Cafe in Sandwich along with his wife, Beth.
The Giampietros are not alone. The pandemic has profoundly impacted many businesses on the Cape, many of which rely on an influx of business from tourists.
The springtime COVID-19 outbreak on Cape Cod "remains a deep and urgent worry" for officials in the region, particularly given the rising presence of more highly infectious variants across the country.
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After U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the B.1.1.7 strain is now the "most common lineage" in the United States, Cape Cod elected officials are warning that variants of the virus have played a role in driving up the area's case counts.
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That's on top of an already difficult year for many businesses owners, like the Giampietros.
“We lost five employees because they were older and afraid to come to work,” he said.
Better days may be in the horizon, however, according to local officials like state Sen. Julian Cyr, who spoke during a Cape Cod COVID-19 Response Task Force press conference Thursday.
Cyr, who represents Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, said advanced bookings for lodging are also up along with a hiring boom on the Cape.
“We expect this is due to the indication that there will be a high vaccination reading in the region and certainly the pent up demand for easily accessible leisure travel,” Cyr said.
Communities on Cape Cod will have a challenge balancing the surge of customers along with a surge of COVID-19 cases.
Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said travel demand for the Cape has not slowed down.
“We are not seeing any erosion of or weakness in people canceling reservations or slowing down,” she said. “So we are trying to be ready for our guests and be able to service them safely.”
Beth Giampietro says that will be challenging given the restrictions of the pandemic, even when the Cape really needs the business.
“We are excited, we’re looking forward to it,” she said.