How many visitors?


To the Editor:

I am a resident of New Jersey and have vacationed on the Island with my family for the past 25 years.

I have been unable to get a satisfactory answer on how this summer season will be handled on the Island. I absolutely realize no one has an exact answer, there are many variables, but one would hope attention is being given to the issue.

As I understand, the Island goes from 17,000 to over 100,000 people in summer. What person thinks this is in any way plausible for this 2020 season? Thousands of us have paid large deposits on rentals and soon many more thousands of dollars are due. What is the plan?

I feel strongly that everyone seems to be waiting for someone else to make a decision. At some point decisions have to be made. Edgartown, Circuit Ave., etc. are so crowded and I can’t imagine that being allowed. I certainly don’t know what the right number of visitors is. 

Wouldn’t it be logical that priority be given to summer home owners over short-term rental tenants? Then why not notify short-term renters and return deposits? It seems obvious that with COVID-19 the Island cannot have an influx of 100,000 people this summer. No one can think that would be safe. You don’t need to wait for the Governor to tell locals that. 

Decide what number of vacationers can safely be allowed on the Island this summer. Make plans. Return deposits. Confusion and chaos will occur sooner rather than later, as June and summer is but a month away.

There are many thousands of us waiting to learn how you plan to handle this summer. We’ll respect your decision. Safety first.

We all love the Island but it will still be there next year and beyond. Please, please, someone take charge and take action now!

Our trip in August was to coincide with the Ag Fair for our grandchild. However, what our vacation really represents is family time to spend with our daughter and family. 

We’ll see what happens. Our ability to come will be based on my husband’s doctor’s recommendation and how safe we feel, but our daughter and family are free to go and enjoy. 

My husband and my favorite times on M.V. are in June and the week before Christmas. Either with everything in bloom, or in winter when the bare trees allow you to see the open fields and miles of rock walls. 

We would look forward to a quiet M.V. My husband has MS so we focus on fishing, limited walking in Edgartown. Making meals for my family is a highlight of our vacation. 

I’ve lost my sister to COVID-19. No visits to see her allowed in assisted living, nor in hospital,  no funeral. It’s a difficult time for each of us and our country and we each have to do our best to be safe — and be thoughtful and kind to each other. 

Be well. Take care of your family. The Vineyard will be there. The beaches and sunsets are God-made and belong to everyone to enjoy. 

Patrica Kunze
West Orange, N.J.


  1. Patricia- thanks for your letter. Another seasonal renter here waiting on answers. Our hefty final payment is due soon. We are being told our payment will be due in full, unless there are restrictions that extend into our rental dates. I’m hopeful that owners, rental agencies and locals can come to agreement soon regarding what is best for the Island. I agree, MV isn’t going anywhere- although we would miss our annual summer voyage to the Island, we’d be happy to return next summer instead when it’s safer for all.

      • I’m not contesting paying the contract, as long as I’m permitted and welcomed on the Island. The question is if final payments are made, and reservations are canceled will money be refunded? There are no answers. I hope you aren’t suggesting renters are responsible for paying for rentals they aren’t permitted to use?

  2. ajay is correct. Unless you are under a stay at home order or we have a stay at home order here your contract must be honored. We look forward to seeing you!

    • BS, where are you getting your statistics about the “minority?” This is the second time I’ve seen you post something like this. Just wondered where these data are so I can take a peek.

  3. Patricia, my condolences on the loss of your sister, and my gratitude for your thoughtful concerns regarding this summer. I’m sure you know most major summer events such as the Ag Fair, the Taste of the Vineyard, Beach Road Weekend, and even Camp Jabberwocky have been canceled. It will be a different summer for all of us – year-round, seasonal homeowners, summer renters, and day-trippers.

    We have 6 different towns, each with their own decision makers. The town of Tisbury mandated facial coverings for those entering public spaces, but this is rendered useless when the Steamship Authority transports people to the island that do not wear them. Please let your husband’s doctor know we have only 3 ICU beds in our hospital and that being transferred to Boston hospital requires either a ferry trip or helicopter.

    Again, my condolences on your loss.

  4. I am in the same boat, except on the ”other side”. I depend on short term rentals in the summer to see me thru the winter. I fully understand your concern, but do you fully understand mine? You must agree that no one could have imagined the situation the whole world finds itself in today. Without some legal directive or precedent and I doubt there is one for this type of ”event” , I would guess that if you fail to make your payments according to the contract, you are in breach of the contract. As an owner, I would put the home back on the market. I would also try to do the right thing and negotiate a fair compromise. I’m interested in what you think would be fair compromise and, no, I am definitely not the person you rented from. One last point…the fact that events are or may be cancelled is not a reason that you can cancel your reservation and expect your deposits to be returned. I am not trying to be ”snarky” and if I come across as that, I apologize. I am no lawyer, so if there is a lawyer who wishes to comment, please do.

  5. TQ- I do fully understand your position. I’d be happy to follow through with my contract and support the local economy when they need it most by browsing open shops wearing a mask, ordering take out to our cottage, and would even be happy to volunteer to any organizations in need during my time on the Island. The Island has given us so much over the years- we are happy to give back in a time of need. However, being legally permitted to vacation on the Island is different that being “welcomed” there. If the majority of locals are not comfortable with an influx of short term rentals for valid reasons- then I would hope that the Islanders can work together with rental agents and owners for a solution. I travel with young children, the Island is a happy place for our family- it would break my heart to come to the Island and subject myself and my family to a hostile, unwelcomed environment. I’ve been following articles and posts, and it appears that many locals are not comfortable with the idea of summer tourists this season. You can’t expect people to spend thousands of dollars to sit in a cottage in quarantine for 2 weeks, or be met with protest and disdain. I would like locals to know- that we are bound by a contract. Most of us are not entitled well off folk who are demanding we are allowed on Island. We are often hard working individuals who choose to spend our money, and vacation on MV – to suggest we just forfeit money already paid and just not come, or come but spend weeks in quarantine is an absurd suggestion. I’m hoping a more thoughtful solution can be agreed upon soon.

    • Please don’t confuse the loud mouth minority of negative islanders with what most of us believe. We think it will be a robust yet different summer. After May 18 there will be no 14 day self quarantine. We look forward to seeing you and your family enjoying all the island has to offer.

      • Do you think that the virus is going to take a vacation, just so you cam enjoy your summer. The summer is going to be a disaster, if people continue to not take this pandemic seriously and make it personal.I’m not a against people coming here, when I was a child, the tourists were my “So called Internet” and I didn’t understand why Natives were so angry at tourists/transplants, not until I left for college did I get it..
        As for this virus, yes, fear is creating a lot of brash decisions and comments and it’s not all fair. In the reality of the situation, this island might be the 57 largest in the US. With the influx of tourists/transplants that are coming down and the population catapulting over 700% times its estimated average population.Will be so great, that people with infections will help spread the virus, the hospital will be so overwhelmed and the island will go into lockdown.
        The world will be nearing 4 million cases soon and the US alone has over 1 million and growing.People from all over the world will be coming to MV, it doesn’t matter if they own homes here, rent, have a camper, or day trip.The virus doesn’t care and it’ll continue to spread.
        If you love Martha’s Vineyard so much, then accept the situation and cancel your trip. Save your money for next summer and come down and enjoy the island. If people continue to be entitled and go along those lines, then this pandemic will continue to grow.
        If the rolls were reversed and I loved going to your home and it was on and island.Why would I chance even coming down to it, if I could run the chance of getting this virus or even help spread it.
        Being born and raised here, this island is apart of me and my family’s been here for generations as well. Respect my home, as I would yours and stop with the entitlement bit, it’s just going to make things worse. As I’ve reiterated before, come down next summer. If you choose to gamble and come down, as I’m sure most will.Next summer could even be worse, so let things calm down a bit and the virus hopefully will be eradicated and next summer will be amazing..

        • MV Born- you say “If you love Martha’s Vineyard so much, then accept the situation and cancel your trip. Save your money for next summer and come down and enjoy the island”- this is not how a rental contract works. If we cancel our reservation we are out the money. Are you volunteering to give me my thousands of dollars not to come? Or are you volunteering to give the owners (Many of whom are your fellow “MV natives”) who depend on the income from renters the thousands of dollars? Instead of casting judgement on the “entitled” seasonal visitors please take time to have a better understanding of how the process works. If you feel so strongly regarding the matter I suggest you call around to local rental agencies to find out what their policies are and voice your opinion to them.

      • As long as the owners are not prohibiting your use you are obligated to pay.
        This virus is not the owners’s fault.
        The people responsible are the people who are prohibiting the use.
        Why should the owner have to absorb all the losses, you signed the contract.

  6. MVdreams…if MV is ”open” for the summer season, then it is your choice on whether to come or not…wearing a mask and observing social distancing should not subject you to a hostile and unwelcome environment…I suspect you have been to MV before and have made some friends over the years and those friends would welcome you, I’m sure…those that would be hostile and unwelcoming, you don’t want to know them anyway…ignore them and enjoy yourself. Again, if MV is open, then doing what you are probably doing right now should be adequate to limit exposure to you and those around you. Avoid people w/o a mask…It is most likely that there will be less people on MV this summer, anyway…good for some, not for others. Would aid in social distancing, that’s for sure….as I said, if I get a cancellation, I am most willing to negotiate a fair settlement…it can’t be all one way, for you or me. The bit about staying in your ”house” for 14 days after arrival is ridiculous! I guarantee, an ”islander” isn’t doing that when they go off for a day or two and then come back. Anyway, good luck and we all hope the summer turns out much better than all the dire predictions to date.

  7. Donx3…thank you very much for that…you and I are 180 degrees apart on many subjects/topics, but it seems both you and I have many of the same views when it comes to this pandemic…who knows, maybe we can both move to the center a bit more when it comes to politics…thanks again.

  8. I have long observed with curiosity the “vineyard hierarchy:”

    My family has been here for thousands of years
    My family has been here for hundreds of years
    My family has been here for undefined “generations”
    I was born here
    I came here in the 60s
    I came here in the 80s (that’s me)
    I live/work here
    I own a house here
    I rent a house here
    I come here for the weekend
    I come here for the day

    There are probably many other levels, each designed to give a bit more “alleged ownership” of the island than those below, to allow a person to look down on someone, anyone. To feel “better than.”

    The fact is, the we/they mentality has always been kind of quaint, now it is hateful. And it is based on a fallacy. Martha’s Vineyard is a place that is part of a state and part of a country. No matter how long you claim to have been here or what you do here: You do not get to keep others out because you do not own this beautiful place.

    Most, but not all, locals are adhering to social distancing rules. Most, but not all, of the seasonal residents have been and will continue to do the same. Most, but not all, of the renters have been and will continue to do the same. Etc.

    MOST IMPORTANT: Those who think they are the “real vineyarders” and look down on the rest probably, most definitely, have a business or income based in one way or another on an indisputable fact — the entire economy feeds on “the others” that you disdain and judge so harshly. You work on a cruise ship, essentially.

    Look in the mirror.

  9. I believe both the rentors (TQ) and the prospective rentees (Patrica, MVdreams) are overlooking the unspoken public health issue in this conversation: the weakest link in the chain, when it comes to spreading covid-19 on the island during the summer, will be short-term rentals. There needs to be full transparency about how the renter (owner) plans to disinfect between tenants — and this plan will certainly need to be endorsed and overseen by the BOH. I would encourage anyone who plans to rent a room or a house ask to see those plans in writing as part of your mutually legal obligation.

    There are probably two options for cleaning between tenants, and both will be costly. The first is to allow three days between rentals, which is the minimum amount of time necessary for the virus to die on surfaces. At the very least, you will be required to allow a full 24 hours before anyone can even go in to clean. The people who clean will need to be provided PPE and receive adequate training — since there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. The disinfecting process will likely add 4-8 hours onto the turnover process depending on the size of the rental (just think: sofas, chairs, rugs, drapes — all need to be cleaned between EACH tenant). And, we haven’t even talked about laundering ALL linens. Every single one.

    And finally, if you are someone who does cleaning for a living — make sure you are properly insured. And, make sure the person who hires you gives you all the supplies and support you need.

    • Juleann…first off, I don’t think there is any mutual legal obligation, on the renter or owner, regarding Covid 19, at this time…if there is one, please post it…you say the BOH needs to endorse and oversee…what does that mean? The BOH will inspect every single property every week. How many properties is that…100’s, 1,000’s? They’re going to hire enough people to do that on a change over day?…and will they even be qualified to make those kind of determinations as to what degree of cleanliness is acceptable? What if the BOH inspector tells you he can’t get to your home for at least a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks? What then? You mention furniture and drapes…this requires a company like Stanley Steamers…is there enough companies like this on MV at present? Who is going to determine if they have adequately disinfected every square inch of every surface in the home…you, the BOH inspector, HA!! Johns Hopkins, I think, has stated that they are not even sure that a virus on a surface has the ability to infect a person…the overwhelming consensus is that the virus is spread human to human, mainly by sneezing, coughing, etc. in close proximity to one another…there are many articles on this…you should read them…how about your home…is it clean enough for your friends to visit? If it is, who made that determination? Wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance, etc…do you think everyone living off island is contaminated and have not been practicing good hygiene…You see where I’m going with all this? I know, you want absolutely no one to come to MV this summer….be careful what you wish for.

  10. I am sure this is stressfull for all parties involved. The “real isalnders” and the “visitors”, the “owners” and the renters” (sounds like the haves vs. the have-nots). But anyway, there doesn’t seem to be a lawyer on here and I am not a lawyer. It seems to me, if you are a home owner renting out your home by the week for the summer,. you have an obligation to provide a “safe” environment to your guests. My morals tell me that anyone who signed a contract before the pandemic should be fully refunded. This may end up happening if Gov. Baker extends the stay at home order. I have a friend who is a nurse “on the front lines”. She and a group of her friends have rented a house for a week in July. . Do you want her and her friends in your house for a week?

  11. juleann, you are so right, i could hug you. well, no i can’t. you voiced what has been my greatest concern in all this and i hope people take heed! having worked as a housecleaner for 20+ years i can agree that the “weakest link” in this public health issue is going to be summer rentals, especially short term ones. any housecleaner will tell you that there is a brief window of time, maybe 4 hours between tenants and usually on a saturday, that you have you clean a house. you try to move quickly as possible and there is no time for deep cleaning, much less disinfecting. check out time, 10am, check in time 2-3pm. often the tenants leaving are not out on time, waiting for a boat. the tenants arriving come early, mostly because of their boat schedule and they want to make the most of their vacation time. “can i just leave my stuff in the fridge?” “can we just use the bathroom?” in normal times, you wouldn’t like this because you wouldn’t want incoming tenants to see the mess before it’s cleaned, but at this point, it would be a health risk! there is so much wrong with this scenario, but you nailed it – about having the time between tenants, training and the extra time it will take to disinfect. although speaking realistically and from experience, this is not going to happen. i can only hope for the best, for housecleaners and their families and vacationers and their families.

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