In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of East Hampton on Friday declared a state of emergency, canceled most meetings, and announced initiatives to allow essential government functions to continue while minimizing face-to-face contact and residents’ need to visit Town Hall and other town facilities.
The state of emergency authorizes Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, in conjunction with Bruce Bates, the town’s emergency preparedness coordinator, and Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo to “take whatever actions are deemed necessary to protect public health and safety,” according to a statement issued by the town on Friday afternoon.
With the exception of the Police Department and the recycling centers in East Hampton and Montauk, town-operated facilities will be closed to the public as of Monday, and all programs will be suspended. Town staff will report to work for essential business and can continue to accept and process applications for permits and the like, according to the statement, but residents have been asked to submit documents electronically. Residents with critical or time-sensitive business have been asked to call Town Hall at 631-324-4141 to make arrangements.
The town board and appointed boards such as the zoning board of appeals may proceed with meetings, according to the statement, but residents have been asked not to attend. The town government’s meetings are broadcast live on LTV’s channel 22 and archived at ltveh.org. Public comments on agenda items can be sent to Carole Brennan, the town clerk, at [email protected]. Remote conferencing can be arranged for public participation.
Public hearings of the planning board, the zoning board of appeals, and the architectural review board have been canceled until further notice, except when time constraints have been placed on an application through a court or other legal obligation.
Meetings of town committees and other groups have been canceled until further notice. Groups wishing to arrange meetings by teleconference have been asked to contact the supervisor’s office.
The town’s information technology personnel are working to enable certain Town Hall staff to work from home, according to an official at Town Hall. Wider discussions about town employees’ ability to work remotely are underway, but no decision has been made to implement such a plan, the official said.
“Our community has weathered many storms,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said in the statement. “In times of need we work cooperatively together. Now is a time to do the same. I ask that everyone act responsibly to help stop the spread of coronavirus.” Mr. Van Scoyoc was scheduled to take part in a conference call with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The town’s state of emergency declaration was issued barely one hour after President Trump declared a national emergency.
It also follows the Suffolk County Health Department’s Thursday announcement of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection in the town. That person, according to a statement issued by the town on Thursday night, is a woman in her late 70s. She is under mandatory quarantine and being monitored by the Health Department. According to the town, she "has not had contact with town senior center, programs, or transportation services, and lives in private residence."
The town’s senior citizens center closed on Wednesday, but individualized services are available to senior citizens.
East Hampton Village has also declared a state of emergency. Village offices, except the Police Department, will be closed to the public. Village museums will also be closed. Village board meetings will take place as planned, as of Friday, but meetings of all appointed boards will not take place for the remainder of the month.
The Am O’Gansett Parade, scheduled for Saturday on Amagansett's Main Street, has been canceled, as has the Montauk Friends of Erin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.