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New Yorkers fleeing coronavirus shunned by ‘pissed-off’ locals in vacation towns

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When Geraldine Greenberg decamped from New York City to Long Beach Island, NJ, with her husband and 20-month-old son, she pictured an idyllic, six-week respite from a COVID-consumed world.

Instead, she was shamed.

“It’s straight-up discrimination against New Yorkers,” Greenberg, a 35-year-old real-estate agent, tells The Post. “We were definitely shunned by the neighbors when we arrived and for the entire time we stayed.”

Popular vacation spots by the beach, upstate and in New England have been a magnet for Manhattanites fleeing the coronavirus. But as locals retaliate with verbal insults, pointed signs and other intimidating behaviors, stir-crazed city slickers — even those who were regular visitors before the pandemic — have been branded geographic undesirables.

At the end of March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel advisory for residents of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. For two weeks, those in the tristate area were asked to halt nonessential travel. Even though those restrictions have been lifted, New Yorkers are still getting slammed for leaving the coronavirus-ravaged city.

Memorial Day crowds in the Hamptons prompted Southampton to implement a new residents-only rule. Until at least June 5, beachgoers have to offer proof they live in the town “to prevent the resurgence of coronavirus in our community.” The board of nearby East Hampton implored Gov. Andrew Cuomo to delay the reopening of area hotels and resorts because nonresidents could “overwhelm our town, creating an untenable, and avoidable, surge in the ongoing public health crisis.” Back in March, law enforcement officers in Rhode Island stopped cars with New York license plates and even conducted door-to-door searches to rout out residents seeking shelter there.

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Being from the Big Apple used to be a badge of honor. Now, it’s something to hide. One Union Square resident, who left Manhattan in May for a three-month stint on the Connecticut coast, anticipated such backlash that she begged Hertz for a rental car that would conceal the truth: She was coming from the Empire State.

“I don’t even want the dirty look,” says the mom, who fled to the Fairfield area with her husband and 13-year-old son. “I told the manager to save a car for me without New York plates . . . I don’t even care if the plates are from Kentucky.”

Jennifer Grasso, 38, is also wary to tout her NYC bona fides — especially after the VRBO host of a Germantown, New York, farmhouse canceled her stay “because we were from the city.”

“We felt awful,” says Grasso, 38, who is married with a 3 ½-year-old daughter. The family ultimately landed a Catskills rental through July.

Jennifer Grasso
Jennifer Grasso with her family.Jennifer Grasso

“For the first time ever,” she says, “I’m happy to have a New Jersey license plate.”

Upper West Side mom of two Myra Smith, 43, jumped at the chance to relax at her upstate Saugerties house, which has served as a haven for her family for the past five years. Even though neighbors know her and her family, she braced for resistance.

“What’s here now is a sense of animosity,” Smith, a college professor, says of the anti-city sentiment.

While shopping at a nearby Price Chopper, she heard a clerk hiss to another local, “You wonder why our shelves are bare — all those city people coming up and taking your groceries.”



Her husband grew up in the area, Smith says, so the harsh treatment stings. She adds, “We’re outsiders despite being insiders.”

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The Sunshine State is inhospitably stormy for New Yorkers, too. In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis openly discouraged owners of vacation homes from hosting residents from the Big Apple. “If you tell me you’re going to rent them out to people from New York City, I’m probably not going to approve that, OK?” said De Santis, adding that renting to people from other states was acceptable.

Karen Armstrong, an Airbnb host who lives in Pensacola, Florida, kicked a Long Island resident out of her house for Memorial Day weekend.

When the guest booked the stay, Armstrong, 59, was concerned that his profile showed he hailed from the New York area — until the guest promised he had been staying in North Carolina with family. But when he arrived with three other vehicles from Louisiana (“another banned state,” says Armstrong, who has earned “Superhost” status on the short-term rentals site), she asked them to leave.

“I had no choice,” she says. “My neighbors are going to hate me. I’m going to be this town’s worst nightmare if we have a second wave [of infections].”

Beth Dimenstein — a longtime resident of North Carolina’s beachy Brunswick Islands — started noticing the Empire State influx in March.

Beth Dimenstein
Beth DimensteinBeth Dimenstein

“When I drive past the grocery store parking lot, it’s packed with so many New York license plates. It’s unbelievable,” says the paralegal, 60, who adds that she is especially worried because she is immunocompromised and cases in the county have jumped from 50 to 90.

“I get it — it’s safer here than walking on Fifth Avenue, but please stay 6 feet apart, and please don’t let your teens walk around without masks,” Dimenstein says. “The tourists are not doing their part. It’s dangerous.”

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Even decades in a second home doesn’t guarantee goodwill from locals in pandemic times. An Upper East Side-based consultant tells The Post of “violence, threats and intimidation” at her longtime second home in Londonderry, Vermont — her onetime sanctuary.

“The local community basically took the opportunity to let every second homeowner know that their diseased New York entitled bodies were no longer welcome in the state,” says the 53-year-old married mother of two, who declined to give her name because she fears retribution from Vermonters. “At one point, someone took over the construction road signs, which were changed to say ‘NY, NJ, CT, turn back.’ There were threats of violence.”

“There are a lot of pissed-off people — I’m afraid of these people,” she says of locals’ attitudes, adding that Vermont hasn’t even been hit hard by the coronavirus. (There are 983 confirmed cases total, with zero currently hospitalized and 55 deaths, according to the state’s health department.) “I was so stunned and hurt — they were out for blood.”

When she stayed in Londonderry over the Memorial Day holiday, she was too scared to venture out of the house. A friend had told her that a resident hostile toward tourists openly carried a pistol around town.

“It’s been disgusting,” says the consultant, whose adult son had recovered from COVID-19 and donated plasma weeks before joining her to quarantine in Vermont. He was harassed, she says, and “confronted by neighbors for simply being at the house.”

She says, “People forget how to be American in this thing.”

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