Governor Chris Sununu issued a stay at home order on Thursday, March 26, for New Hampshire residents, in effect until May 4th. He ordered all non-essential businesses to close, starting at midnight Friday, March 27. The moves are part of the state's broader efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in New Hampshire.
This page will be updated as we learn more about the governor's order.
Below are answers to some common questions about the new guidelines and what they mean for people in the state.
Which businesses will remain open?
In a press briefing on Thursday, Governor Sununu said essential businesses can stay open. These include health care facilities, gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, banks and credit unions, hardware stores, homeless shelters, food banks, animal health services, gun stores, liquor stores, restaurants, and breweries. You can find a full list of essential services here. Changes or updates will be posted on the Department of Business and Economic Affairs’ website. The governor updated the list, just hours before the emergency order took effect, to include guidance for retailers and real estate transactions; retailers' facilities are closed to the public, but they can have curbside or delivery business.
Can I still go outside?
The governor has asked all people to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, especially those who are over age 65 or with chronic health conditions. However, people can still go outside for exercise, to go to work, and to buy essential supplies.
How does this differ from a shelter-in-place order?
Sununu says his stay-at-home order differs from a shelter-in-place order because he is not closing transportation services, not closing the state border, not preventing people from leaving their homes, and not prohibiting residents of other states from entering New Hampshire.
Will child care centers remain open?
Yes. Child care and day care facilities will remain open to support the state’s essential employees as they continue to go to work.
What about parks, playgrounds, and beaches?
Parks and playgrounds are still open under the order. However, all New Hampshire beaches along the Seacoast will be closed by midnight Friday.
Will my business have to close?
If you’re uncertain whether your business is considered essential or not, you can contact the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs.
If my business closes as a result of the order, should my employees file for unemployment?
Yes. New Hampshire has broadly opened up unemployment benefits to provide financial support to those out of work as a result of COVID-19. You can find more information on filing for employment benefits here.
How will this order be enforced?
The order gives state health officials and state and local police the authority to enforce these new guidelines. However, the attorney general's office says their primary objective is to “inform the public of the order, its importance to public health, and to seek voluntary compliance” and that “criminal enforcement is not a primary objective.”
Repeat violators of the order may be issued a written warning from law enforcement officials. If a person or business fails to comply after receiving a written warning, enforcement may escalate to criminal charges.
How long will this last?
The stay-at-home order is in effect until May 4, 2020. However, the governor says the order could be extended as the situation changes.