Reopening Taskforce Recommends Steps For N.H. Camps, Sports, Museums

May 19, 2020

The Governor's Economic Re-Opening Taskforce unanimously approved reopening guidance plans Tuesday afternoon for amateur sports, overnight summer camps, day camps, acupuncture, museums and restaurants serving wedding events.

The guidelines will now be sent to the Division of Public Health Services for approval. Then, they must be approved by Gov. Chris Sununu before they are implemented.  

Although there is not yet a timeline in place for when the guidelines will be adopted, the documents show what reopening might look like for several industries for whom summer is a key season.

Summer camps

Most importantly for many parents in New Hampshire, the taskforce approved guidelines allowing day camps and overnight camps to operate, although no date has been set. Still, taskforce member Chris Emond, who was the work group chair for drafting the camp guidelines, believes that both overnight and day camps can open safely this summer.

“I would feel comfortable sending my kid,” Emond, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire and father of two, said in a Tuesday interview.

In the day camp guidelines, the taskforce noted that camps are important, both for providing childcare as more parents return to work, and for providing a sense of normalcy to children.

The guidelines for summer camps urge frequent hand washing, social distancing, and screening of both staff and campers for symptoms of COVID-19. Children will be screened during drop-off, and adults dropping off should not enter the camp, the guidelines say.  Camps are asked to adjust drop-off procedures so that there are no lines and that social distancing can be maintained during drop-off.

Campers will be divided into small groups, which are maintained through the camp session in order to minimize exposure.

“There is a concern [for] ‘Camper Boredom’ – camper and staff burnout if they are only interacting with the same 12-16 people every day and without a variety of activities,” the guidelines note, so groups can interact if the activity allows for social distancing.

Overnight camps would take a similar approach under the new guidelines.

“Many Residential Camps, with acceptable modifications, can quarantine, functioning as a ‘single family home’ and ‘shelter-in-place’ together for the duration of the camp session regardless of camp size,” the guidelines say.

Camps will be conducted outdoors as often as possible, and groups will be kept separate indoors during bad weather. Campers’ equipment — like lunches or changes of clothes — must be clearly labeled and kept away from other camper’s equipment. Campers won’t be asked to wear masks, since the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend masks for kids, but staff will have to wear masks in certain situations, including during check-in. Field-trips and all-camp activities are off the table unless social distancing guidelines change.

If a child or staff-member tests positive for the virus, the camp must notify all families and staff. 

Changes to catering and events

The taskforce also approved a recommendation to change restaurant and food service guidelines by allowing outdoor catered events. If the governor approves the change, caterers could begin serving outdoor events, following the same protocols as restaurants with outdoor seating.  Currently, restaurants are not allowed to serve indoors, but do so outdoors provided they follow certain protocols, such as spacing tables six feet apart.

Sports, museums and acupuncture

The taskforce approved guidelines for amateur sports to resume. Initially, this would be limited to outdoor sports, but includes both low-contact sports like baseball, and high-contact sports like football. Teams of up to 10 people can practice together, using shared equipment. Initially, there will be no competition.

Teams will take precautions to minimize contact, like using their own set of balls when fielding, and using hand sanitizer before taking the field. Individuals and their equipment should remain six-feet apart whenever possible.

Acupuncture can be offered with safety precautions, including providers, staff and clients wearing masks and being screened for coronavirus symptoms, the guidelines say.

Guidelines for museums and art galleries say that these establishments can open at 50 percent capacity, with groups limited to 10 people. Staff must wear masks and make them available to patrons who request them, and one-way traffic should be established when possible, the guidelines say. Importantly, all admission tickets are eligible for refund and rescheduling.

On Wednesday, the taskforce expects to discuss draft guidelines for the reopening of religious organizations.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.