Updated: What’s Open (And What’s Not Open) In New Hampshire
In an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Chris Sununu issued a series of executive orders in March shuttering huge segments of both economic and community life in New Hampshire. Suddenly, workers and industries were split into two camps: those deemed essential, and those not.
More than 100 days later, nearly all corners of the state’s economy now have permission to reopen. At 11:59 p.m. on June 15, Sununu’s ‘Stay at Home’ order expired, as did the cap on gatherings of more than ten people.
Businesses and entities are not required to reopen, however, so it is smart to check before venturing out. Those that are open are required to follow industry-specific guidance that was crafted, in part, by the governor’s Reopening Task Force.
Below, NHPR summarizes the new New Hampshire economy. Click on the blue links to read industry-specific guidance documents. The state is also compiling all guidance documents here.
There is also a universal set of guidelines, described as the “minimum standards” all businesses should meet in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
New Hampshire is the only state in the region without a statewide mask mandate in place, but more towns around the state are starting to institute their own mask mandates. Check out NHPR’s map to see what is required where.
People attending gatherings of more than 100 people in the state are required to wear a mask, Sununu announced in his August 11 news conference. If participants do not meet the requirement, organizers will be subject to a penalty.
RESTAURANTS & LODGING
Throughout the economic shutdown, restaurants were permitted to offer delivery and curbside pickup for food, and even booze. In mid-May, outdoor seating resumed in New Hampshire, with tables spaced at least six feet apart and servers required to wear masks.
On June 15, indoor seating resumed, though the number of tables permitted depends on which county the restaurant is located in. Restaurants in the northern and western part of the state must space tables six feet apart. Those in Rockingham, Hillsborough, Merrimack and Strafford Counties, where the vast majority of the state’s COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, are limited to 50 percent of capacity. Bar seating also resumed statewide on the 15th, but customers have to be seated.
In an effort to avoid a surge of cases and limit super-spreader events, Sununu said in his August 11 news conference that the state liquor enforcement division will be increasing their presence to ensure that all restaurants and bars in the state are following New Hampshire’s guidance documents.
All restaurant and bar attendees must be sitting at their assigned tables, and not standing or walking around.
Hotels and other forms of lodging, including short term rentals, began accepting guests on June 5. Guests coming from outside New England have to sign a form saying they quarantined at home for at least 14 days before entering the state. All hotels can now operate at full capacity.
Private campgrounds are open, as well, with restrictions in place for out-of-state guests.
Most state parks have stayed open, with a limited number accepting camping reservations at this time.
On May 11, retail stores, some of which offered curbside delivery throughout the pandemic, were allowed to reopen their doors to a capped number of customers. Guidelines require employees to wear masks and employers to monitor the temperature of employees.
Yard sales, the governor has clarified, are also allowed to take place.
ARTS & CULTURE
On June 15, museums and art galleries were allowed to reopen, but they have to limit capacity to 50 percent. Wherever possible, one way aisles should be designated, and all interactive exhibits are strongly discouraged.
Libraries also resumed operations on June 15. All returned books need to be quarantined for 72 hours.
Performing arts centers also reopened on June 29.
Amusement parks reopened on June 29, but are capped at 25 percent of capacity.
A wide list of outdoor attractions are allowed to operate. The list includes: golf courses, driving ranges, mini-golf, biking, canoe and kayak rentals, outdoor shooting ranges, small fishing charters, paintball, and outdoor guiding services for fishing, hunting, and hiking.
Petting zoos are also allowed to open, so pet away.
Outdoor race tracks were allowed to waive the checkered flag beginning June 15. The N.H. Motorspeedway in Loudon hostr a NASCAR race on August 2. However, no camping was allowed and capacity was limited to 35 percent of capacity.
Charitable gaming facilities, where players gamble with a portion of proceeds going to local nonprofits, were allowed to reopen June 15. Four per table at Blackjack, while up to six people can sit at a poker or roulette table.
On June 15, bowling alleys reopened for business. No more than five bowlers are allowed per lane, and there should be a lane left vacant in between groups.
Laser tag and billiard halls also were permitted to reopen on June 15.
SPORTS & GYMS
Amateur and youth sports are allowed to resume practices, in small groups with a focus on non-contact training. Athletes and staff are asked to keep at least 6 feet away from one another at all times.
Starting June 15, games and competitions for low-contact sports were allowed to resume. Indoor recreation facilities, including tennis courts, were also allowed to reopen on June 15.
Equestrian facilities are allowed to open, including for group lessons. However, no competitions are permitted at this time, and riders must use their own gear.
Starting on June 1, health and fitness classes including aerobics, yoga, dance and martial arts resumed, with cleaning and safety requirements and steps to maintain social distance. On June 15, gyms were allowed to reopen to members for workouts, but need to limit capacity to 50 percent. Machines should be rearranged to ensure there is 6 feet between members. Keep your grunting to a minimum.
On June 15, road races resumed. There should be 6 feet between competitors at the starting line. If that can't be accommodated, races are encouraged to use staggered starts. Bananas and bagels afterwards must be packaged grab-and-go style.
BEACHES & POOLS
New Hampshire’s beaches reopened on June 1 for swimming, surfing and exercise. On June 5, however, the governor removed any restrictions on activities, meaning that sunbathing and picnics are again allowed. Groups must stay six feet apart on the sand.
Parking remains extremely limited at most access points.
State Parks inland beaches are now open, after a delay. Swimming, sitting and playing are all allowed, as long as social distancing is maintained.
On June 15, pools reopened to the public, albeit with restrictions. Swim meets can also resume, though only for athletes from New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.
HOUSES OF WORSHIP
After receiving guidance from the CDC, Sununu announced on May 29 that places of worship can reopen to in-person services in New Hampshire, limiting their occupancy to 40% and instituting measures to maintain 6 feet of social distance between congregants.
WEDDINGS & FUNERALS
Congrats on that engagement! Starting June 15, wedding venues resumed hosting receptions statewide. Capacity is limited at 50 percent of the venue's maximum, however. Tables must be spaced six feet apart, and there can't be more than six guests per table.
Dancing is only suggested between immediate family members and those who live together. Everyone else is advised to remain six feet apart on the dance floor.
On June 15, funeral homes were allowed to reopen. Attendees are requested to wear masks, and capacity will be limited to 50 percent.
CAMPS & CHILDCARE FACILITIES
Child care facilities are allowed to open, as long as children and providers are screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms. Group sizes are limited to ten, and staff are advised to keep the same group of children together, to avoid any potential spread.
State health officials recommend against children wearing masks due to the risk of choking or strangulation. Frequent hand washing, however, is highly encouraged.
Day camps resumed on June 22. Among other safety precautions, staff and campers are advised to divide into small groups of 10 or less, keeping the same people together throughout the session.
Overnight camps opened on June 28, as long as they follow certain guidelines.
Sununu announced New Hampshire's back-to-school guidance on July 14, which allows schools to reopen this fall.
School officials will be able to set their own rules and plans for how they will reopen. Professional development, class size, classroom health screening, and mask guidance are part of what the governor describe as a "flexible" and "dynamic" document that provides guidance for districts to reopen or operate under hybrid learning models.
SALONS, BARBERSHOPS & TATTOOS
Barbers and hair salons also reopened May 11. Reservations are required, services are limited, and both customers and employees must wear masks. No blow drying!
New Hampshire’s judicial system continues to operate, however a number of restrictions remain in place for in-person proceedings.
The Supreme Court is hearing cases, but there is no public access to the building and all arguments are being conducted via videoconference with a livestream available to the public. Click here to see the schedule of upcoming cases.
The state’s Superior and District Courts are processing cases, with most hearings conducted remotely. The lower courts are open for a limited range of in-person hearings, which you can read through here.
At this time, all jury trials remain on hold.
(Editor’s note: This page was last updated August 3. When new guidelines are announced, we will revise this page.)