Summer is upon us. This year, many more people are already on the Island because of relocation during Covid, and forecasts call for an unprecedented number of people to be here soon.

But Covid is not over. In reality, 2021 is Covid-2. Only this year there are no clear guidelines; the public is thrilled to be able to travel and have a “normal” summer, but for the Vineyard business community it is anything but normal.

Covid broke things here. J-1 students who come to the Island to work, mostly from Eastern Europe, cannot get visas, if they are allowed to travel internationally at all. Employees who once inquired about jobs somehow do not exist — perhaps because of the additional $300 a week currently being provided by unemployment insurance — and if they do apply, the lack of affordable housing on the Island makes hiring impossible. The supply chain at every level and affecting every industry has been interrupted or halted.

In the past, businesses were able to go slowly at the beginning of the season because fewer people were here demanding food, retail goods, landscaping work and delivery services. With Covid fatigue and the sudden reversal of Covid regulations taking effect on May 29, the demand is more than our Vineyard businesses can handle.

Virtually none of the restaurants have enough kitchen or service staff to be able to function as they did in pre-Covid seasons. What this means is that a large number of restaurants (if not the majority) cannot possibly be open seven days a week and must limit the number of people they can serve a night. My husband is chef and owner of a restaurant in Edgartown. We anticipate that people will not be patient or as kind and understanding as most were last summer when everyone was scared about Covid, mask wearing and social distancing were respected, and dining out felt like a heavenly luxury.

We can only do what we can physically do and make sure we represent ourselves well and provide people with the experience that they want and deserve. Because we are in the service industry, it is disappointing to have to scale back when you know your customers are clamoring for more, but this season, which is proving more difficult than last while we were in the throes of full-on Covid uncertainty, it is not physically possible.

What the Island needs from its summer residents and visitors slated to arrive is patience and understanding that this summer is more complicated for businesses than last year. That business owners are doing their best to survive Covid — and it is beyond hard. Every business that relies on more than a few people is understaffed. It has been the most anxious pre-season that I can recall for everyone who runs a business.

So my plea to all who are on the Vineyard this summer is this: Be nice. Be kinder than you have ever been. Remember that you are on vacation and that the majority of people who live here are not, so please be patient and compassionate to all. We genuinely want you to enjoy your time here. This pandemic is not over. While the light at the end of this tunnel is visible, it is now Covid-2 on the Vineyard.

Nicole Friedler Brisson