Your FAQs Answered: What’s Open, And What’s Not Open In New Hampshire

1 hour ago

Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR

In an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Chris Sununu issued a series of emergency orders earlier this year limiting the operations of some businesses, while shuttering others. In recent weeks, he’s issued new orders allowing some entities to reopen, though with restrictions.

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Like New England weather, the list of what entities are allowed to open, and under what circumstances, has been changing rapidly. 

You can click here to find the state’s official updated list of industry-specific guidelines.  

Below, NHPR spells out what’s open, what’s not, and who is making the decisions. 

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What is Stay At Home 2.0?

In mid-March, the governor declared a state of emergency and ordered all businesses, schools, and places of worship to close, except those services deemed “essential.” All residents were asked to stay home as much as possible, avoid contact with others whenever possible, and limit gatherings to no more than ten people.

On May 1, with COVID-19 still spreading in the community, the governor announced Stay at Home 2.0, extending New Hampshire’s state of emergency order through May 31.  

On May 29, he extended the order for another 2 weeks, to June 15.

Under Stay At Home 2.0, residents are still asked to stay at home as much as possible. 

However, the governor is gradually allowing certain businesses and organizations to resume operations, as long as they follow guidelines intended to keep employees and the public they serve safe.  

See our coronavirus FAQ here. It includes general safety information and answers some of the questions we’re getting.

So, which types of businesses are now open? 

Beginning May 4, hospitals were given the green light to resume scheduled medical procedures.  

Private campgrounds reopened as well, with restrictions in place for out-of-state guests.

Most state parks have stayed open, although only a few are 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 clarified on May 22, are also allowed to take place.

Barbers and hair salons also reopened May 11. Reservations are required, services are limited (no blow drying!), and both customers and employees must wear masks.

Dentist offices are also now allowed to operate, with strict rules in place.

Starting on June 1, other businesses will be allowed to open with safety restrictions, including acupuncturists, tattoo artists, cosmetologists and massage therapists.

Hotels and other forms of lodging will be allowed to re-open to guests on Friday, June 5. They may begin taking reservations immediately. Guests who are not from New Hampshire will have to sign a form saying they quarantined at home for at least 14 days before entering the state. Larger hotels with inside room entrances must limit their capacity to 50%. Hotels with fewer than 20 rooms or with outdoor entrances will be able to open to full capacity.

Driving instructors can put students behind the wheel again, both wearing masks and taking other precautions.  Driving tests will resume at some DMV locations beginning Monday, June 1.

Keep in mind that just because facilities are allowed to reopen doesn’t mean they are. Many businesses, citing the continued risk of COVID-19 to both consumers and employees, are remaining closed.

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What about child care facilities and camps?

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 can resume 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.

On May 29, the governor said the state will allow overnight camps to open starting June 28, but the state is still working out the specific guidance it will issue.

What about 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.

What about sports and outdoor activities?

A wide list of outdoor attractions are now allowed to operate. The list includes: golf courses, driving ranges, mini-golf, drive-in movie theaters, biking, canoe and kayak rentals, outdoor shooting ranges, small fishing charters, paintball, and outdoor guiding services for fishing, hunting, and hiking. Groups are limited to no more than ten people.

Amateur and youth sports are allowed to resume, in small groups with a focus on non-contact training. Athletes and staff must keep at least 6 feet away from one another at all times.

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.

On May 22, in advance of Memorial Day weekend, the governor said cookouts should be kept to less than ten people, like all gatherings, with participants keeping social distance from one another when possible.

Starting on June 1, health and fitness classes like aerobics, yoga, dance and martial arts will be able to resume, with cleaning and safety requirements and steps to maintain social distance. Gyms and health care facilities remain closed to other uses.

What about beaches?

New Hampshire’s seacost beaches will reopen on June 1. Parking will be limited and only "transitory" activities will be allowed--things like walking, swimming and surfing. Picnicking or laying on the beach with a book will have to wait.

Facilities for the State Parks inland beaches are closed. People may walk to them, but swimming or sitting on those beaches is prohibited.

What about restaurants?

Throughout the state of emergency, restaurants have been permitted to offer takeout and delivery (including booze). 

On May 18, restaurants were permitted to begin outdoor dining service, with tables spaced at least six feet apart and servers donning masks. 

What remains closed?

Most indoor facilities where large groups may gather are still closed, including art galleries, movie theaters, and performing arts centers.

Who is making these decisions?

Under his declared State of Emergency, Gov. Chris Sununu has final authority over what industries and activities can resume, and when. In recent weeks, Sununu has been rolling out new reopening guidelines during his afternoon press conferences (often held Monday, Wednesday and Friday, though not always), which you can hear live on NHPR or stream on 

Sununu is making his decisions based on a two-step review process. First, the Reopening Task Force, which is composed of approximately 20 officials and industry representatives, will issue draft guidelines on how a specific industry can safely reopen. Those guidelines are generated after Task Force members hear presentations by industry representatives, receive public comment, and debate proper protocols.

Once the Reopening Task Force votes to approve a set of guidelines for a specific industry, New Hampshire’s Division of Public Health weighs in. That process is done outside of public view.

The guidelines may then be modified, approved or rejected by Sununu, who also gets to decide when the new rules go into effect.

(Editor’s note: This page was last updated May 29. When new guidelines are announced, we will revise this page.)

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