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State Releases Guidance Document That Lifts COVID-19 Rules on Businesses

Photo of Sununu speaking at microphone
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Beginning May 7, the state will lift all restrictions on businesses and organizations aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, and will instead encourage facilities to follow a slate of recommendations.

The new Universal Best Practices guidance released Thursday lifts all restrictions on capacity and social distancing at facilities, including performing arts venues and amusement parks, as well as rules requiring restaurants to space tables at least six feet apart.

Instead, the state is encouraging businesses to take steps to space customers, whenever possible, and keep in place other protective measures including plastic barriers and one-way directional signs. 

Businesses and organizations are allowed to continue requiring masks, if they choose, as well as any other COVID-19-related measures they may already have in place. 

The new guidance document replaces the more than 30 industry-specific regulations released in 2020 that included rules for the operation of everything from massage parlors to movie theaters. 

“What we’ve really tried to do is keep it truly universal. So whether it is restaurants or retail or whatever it is,” said Gov. Chris Sununu today during his weekly press conference.

The state did release a set of stand-alone guidance for overnight summer camps.

On Thursday, Sununu also said all state employees still working remotely are being told to return to in-person work May 10. At that time, members of the public will be allowed to re-enter public spaces to complete state business. Masks will not be required inside state buildings, unless a local municipal ordinance is in effect, though employees and members of the public will be allowed to wear masks.

Other Coronavirus News

During Thursday’s press conference, the state announced that it had administered more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and that 446,000 residents are now fully vaccinated.

Top health officials also continued to encourage younger residents to consider getting a vaccination.

“We have seen even young people get hospitalized or have weeks or months of breathing problems that impacted their ability to play sports, or exercise or live a normal daily life,” said Dr. Beth Daly, chief infectious disease specialist for New Hampshire. She added that getting vaccinated will help keep people at work or in school, and prevent them from having to quarantine. 

This Sunday, the state is offering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson-made vaccine at mass-vaccination clinics in Concord, Nashua and Newington. Appointments are still available, and can be reserved at or by calling 2-1-1. 

Lori Shibinette, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, reiterated that there are currently no prohibitions on both indoor and outdoor visitation at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, unless the facility is experiencing an active outbreak of COVID-19. Shibinette said the state has heard complaints from family members in recent weeks about facilities continuing to limit visitations, and that the state plans on releasing new guidance in the coming weeks related to nursing homes. 

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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