Gov. Chris Sununu issued a stay-at-home order on March 26, 2020 in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus in New Hampshire. Here is what you need to know about the amended order, which is now in effect until May 31.
New Hampshire’s 'Stay at Home 2.0' – What Has Changed?
New Hampshire’s original stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was set to expire on Monday, May 4. On Friday, May 1, Gov. Chris Sununu announced a plan to relax some aspects of that order and re-open parts of the economy.
What is different now?
First, what is not changing: state officials still say people in New Hampshire should stay home whenever possible in order to protect vulnerable populations. When you do go out, be sure to maintain at least 6 feet of social distance, use proper hand hygiene, and wear a mask if possible.
Starting Monday, May 4, hospitals can resume some of the elective procedures that were previously on hold. These include time sensitive MRIs and CT scans, knee and hip replacements, and biopsies and other invasive testing.
State parks, campgrounds and manufacturing facilities have remained open, but now have new guidance to protect the health and safety of visitors and employees.
State parks have additional rules to limit the number of visitors, including requiring reservations in some areas.
Campgrounds will be open only to New Hampshire residents and members of private campgrounds, with additional rules to enforce social distancing.
What kinds of business will be allowed to open next?
On May 11, the state economy will open a little further, with the re-opening of golf courses, barbers and hair salons, retail stores and drive-in movie theaters. All have some restrictions and new guidance.
Golf courses will be limited to New Hampshire residents and members of private clubs. Use of clubhouses will be prohibited and there will be restrictions on the serving of food and drinks.
Barbers and hair salons can open by reservation only, with service limited to haircuts and touch up coloring. Both employees and customers must wear face coverings.
Retail store employees must wear face masks and follow sanitation guidelines. Stores must also limit their customers to 50% occupancy, based on fire code. Customers are encouraged to wear face masks and order ahead or do curbside pick up or delivery when possible.
Drive-in movie theaters have some restrictions on food and beverage service, and guidelines to prevent lines or crowding, such as around restrooms. At the May 1 press conference announcing these changes, Sununu noted there are only a few drive-in theaters in the state, but said a lot of people are looking at opening them up in this time of social distancing.
When can I go out to eat again?
In two weeks, on May 18, restaurants in New Hampshire can open to provide outdoor food services, in addition to providing take out or delivery. Servers must wear face coverings, and tables must be 6 feet apart, with no more than 6 people at a table, according to the policy.
Sununu said he’s asking cities and towns to be flexible and help expand outdoor seating for restaurants that don’t already have that option.
It’s going to be beautiful this weekend. Can I go to the beach?
Seacoast beaches remain closed. Sununu said New Hampshire is coordinating closely with neighboring states on the best time to relax that restriction. The state parks policy spells out reopening guidelines for inland state beaches, with limited occupancy and other restrictions.
What if we see a surge in coronavirus cases? Could the stay at home order tighten again?
Sununu said the state is stepping forward now but could always step back if necessary. He says he’s focused on balancing health and safety with the state’s economic needs.
Below here is the original story—published March 28—on the stay-at-home order.
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.