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Posted May 12, 2020 at 4:24 PM
CONCORD — A panel tasked with reopening New Hampshire’s economy amid the easing threat from the coronavirus pandemic agreed Tuesday on proposals for six sectors, among them lodging, outdoor attractions and gyms.
The recommendations won’t be final until public health officials and Gov. Chris Sununu give their OK.
The task force unanimously recommended hotels be limited to half their capacity, though the limit would not apply to motels with outdoor access to rooms or to inns and bed-and-breakfasts with 10 or fewer rooms.
Face masks would be required for staffers and are recommended for guests, who would be asked at check-in about any possible exposure to the coronavirus.
A reopening date of May 22 is recommended for lodging, but target dates for other sectors were not included.
On attractions, the guidance covers “recreational and natural settings,” including biking, canoe and kayak rentals, mini-golf, driving ranges, shooting ranges, and racetracks.
Also included are small group tours such as for Lost River Gorge and the Polar Caves, but task force members said amusement parks, water parks and indoor attractions would be addressed later.
Outdoor attractions would be limited to half their capacity, or to the number social distancing guidelines can accommodate, whichever is less. The requirement would be the same for gyms and fitness clubs, which also would be prohibited from enrolling out-of-state residents as new members.
The Republican governor’s stay-at-home order was extended to May 31, but some businesses were allowed to reopen this week, including retail stores, hair salons and golf courses.
Restaurants will be allowed to begin offering outdoor dining May 18.
Two Rockingham County residents are among the nine coronavirus deaths reported Tuesday by New Hampshire health officials. The county also surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The state’s death toll increased to 142 people. All of the nine people reported dead Tuesday were age 60 or older. They included one man and one woman in Rockingham County, three men and three women in Hillsborough County and one man in Merrimack County.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services also reported 81 new positive test results for COVID-19, raising the state’s total to 3,239.
Of those with complete information, the new cases include five people under the age of 18 and the rest are adults with 47% female and 53% male. The new cases reside in Hillsborough County other than Manchester and Nashua (28), Rockingham (14), Merrimack (9), Belknap (1), Cheshire (1), and Strafford (1) counties, and in the cities of Manchester (18) and Nashua (9).
Rockingham County’s total cases reached 1,010, while Strafford County reached 199.
One new hospitalized case was identified for a total of 319 (about 10%) of the 3,239 cases.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist, has said the number of tests being done in the state has been increasing, hitting an average of about 1,200 per day last week.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The majority of the state’s deaths have been in long-term care facilities.
Officials in Salem, a town along the Massachusetts border, are considering requiring face masks in indoor public spaces. The proposal would require anyone over age 2 to wear some type of face covering, or face a fine as high as $200.
The Board of Selectmen discussed the matter during a virtual meeting Monday but didn’t vote on it.
Jim Keller, the selectman who wrote the proposal, said the main concern is to protect residents from visitors from Massachusetts, where the outbreak is worse, WMUR-TV reported. Some callers disagreed and believed the fine was too high.
In Massachusetts, residents must wear face coverings in public or face fines of as much as $300.
Associated Press writers Holly Ramer and Kathy McCormack contributed to this report.
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