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New Hampshire, Vermont roll out more reopening measures

  • Michelle Rowe, a phlebotomy technician at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, in Brattleboro, Vt., takes a video of the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard's F-35A Lightning II during a flyover on Friday, May 22, 2020. The 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard honored Vermont's front line COVID-19 responders and essential workers with a flyover. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

  • Hillary Hauer, an endoscopy technician at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, in Brattleboro, Vt., takes a video of the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard's F-35A Lightning II during a flyover on Friday, May 22, 2020. The 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard honored Vermont's front line COVID-19 responders and essential workers with a flyover. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

  • People gathered at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, in Brattleboro, Vt., to watch as the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard honored Vermont's front line COVID-19 responders and essential workers with a flyover with four F-35A Lightning II on Friday, May 22, 2020. The Vermont Air National Guard flew over hospitals across the state. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

  • People gathered at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, in Brattleboro, Vt., to watch as the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard honored Vermont's front line COVID-19 responders and essential workers with a flyover with four F-35A Lightning II on Friday, May 22, 2020. The Vermont Air National Guard flew over hospitals across the state. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

  • Jack Mosher, a member of Boy Scouts Troop 461, puts an American flag on to veteran gravesites at West Dover Village Cemetery in Dover, Vt., Thursday, May 21, 2020, in observance of Memorial Day. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

  • Two women, wearing protective masks due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, walk on a sidewalk adjacent to an empty Hampton Beach in Hampton, N.H., Thursday, May 21, 2020. Beaches in New Hampshire have been closed since March by state order due to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Associated Press
Published: 5/22/2020 9:21:15 PM
Modified: 5/22/2020 9:23:15 PM

New Hampshire’s short stretch of coastline will reopen to swimmers, walkers and runners June 1, but sunbathers will have to wait, Gov. Chris Sununu said Friday.

The rules for reopening beaches in Hampton, North Hampton, Rye, Seabrook, and New Castle include closing a portion of the main road parallel to the beach in Hampton to vehicle traffic and cutting available parking in half in state-owned lots.

“Active recreation,” including surfing, will be allowed, but group sports, picnics and lounging will not.

“What’s the line in the sand? This is not the time to drop your blanket and sit around. We want people to be moving,” Sununu said.

The announcement came as much of the state experienced its hottest weather of the year and just ahead of what usually is a busy holiday weekend for tourism.

“I know I’m giving a press conference and it’s about 85-90 degrees outside, and unfortunately beaches will not be open this weekend,” Sununu said. “We’re taking a very measured approach.”

Massachusetts beaches will reopen Monday with restrictions including group sizes of no more than 10 people and blankets spaced at least 12 feet apart. In Maine, 10 coastal state parks will reopen June 1. Some individual towns there have reopened their beaches, with similar restrictions on sunbathing as those being enacted in New Hampshire.

Vermont

Meanwhile in Vermont, outdoor dining at restaurants was allowed with restrictions Friday as state officials announced more reopenings after coronavirus-related shutdowns, including many health care services.

Churches may open to 25% of capacity starting Saturday, and barbers and hair salons will be permitted to reopen May 29, Gov. Phil Scott said, adding that he expected to have a time frame for gyms and spas in a week.

“I believe these steps forward will be welcome news for many. And because most Vermonters are being smart and staying safe, our data continues to show we’re moving in the right direction,” the Republican said.

Vermont continues to have the second-slowest doubling rate of virus cases in the country after Hawaii, said Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

In the previous week, Vermont reported fewer than 20 new cases, but the state needs to watch its neighbors as it continues to reopen, he said.

New Hampshire had about 571 new cases, Massachusetts reported roughly 8,500, and New York had about 16,000 in the past seven days, Pieciak said.

“I am being very cautious about this,” said Scott, a Republican. “I don’t want to lose ground.”

Inpatient surgeries and procedures were allowed to resume with safety requirements immediately, as well as doctor’s visits and outpatient services such as alcohol and drug and mental health counseling, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

Acupuncturists, chiropractors, physical and occupational therapists, and opticians and optometrists may also reopen, he said. Dentists may do procedures that are a low risk of generating airborne particles between now and June 1, when it’s expected other procedures will be allowed, Levine said.

But traditional fairs and festivals are canceled for the season, Scott said.

“We’re just not ready for large, unstructured events with hundreds if not thousands of people coming into one area without control and ability to physically separate,” he said.

Under the outdoor dining rules effective Friday, restaurants must follow strict guidelines, including that tables be at least 10 feet apart and that members of only two households and no more than 10 people be seated at a table.

Disposable menus are required, and disposable or single-use condiment packages are encouraged. Operators must maintain a log of customers in the event that contact tracing is required.

New Hampshire

Beach regulations weren’t the only guidance released Friday:

Youth sports teams can resume outdoor practice and training sessions in small groups, Gov. Chris Sununu said.

The rules limit sessions to 10 or fewer players and coaches and apply to amateur and youth sports, including athletic leagues and organizations.

Sununu also issued rules for the partial reopening of gyms and fitness centers starting June 1, with only small group classes allowed.

Sununu issued updated rules for hair salons and barber shops, as well as new guidance for tattoo artists, manicurists and other businesses.

The updated rules allow hair salons and barber shops to resume all services with up to seven workstations per 1,000 square feet. The businesses were allowed to reopen May 11 but were limited to cuts and root touch-ups and a maximum of 10 people inside at once.

Ahead of the announcement, tattoo artists and estheticians pushed back against a requirement that they to wear not only cloth face coverings but also goggles or face shields when they reopen June 1.

Acupuncturists, massage therapists and tanning salons also can reopen June 1.

Face masks are now optional for workers at New Hampshire child care centers under updated rules issued by Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday.

Centers, which were allowed to reopen May 18, also can increase capacity by dividing rooms to accommodate groups of 10 children and staff, and workers can feed children without keeping them 6 feet apart.

“You’d have to have more than two arms to accomplish that,” said Chris Emond, director of the Concord Boys & Girls Club and a member of the task force that recommended the changes.

A group making recommendations on reopening the economy amended its guidance for lodging Friday to restrict hotels, inns and other establishments to New Hampshire residents only, or to out-of-staters who have quarantined at home for 14 days before arriving.

During a public input session, several owners of seasonal cottages and other accommodations pleaded with the task force to allow them to reopen as soon as possible.

“I know the governor’s intention was to keep out-of-state residents out of New Hampshire; however, that’s not working,” said Sherry Waring, owner of Twin Mountain Cottage in Carroll.

“We’re watching the traffic go by, oh my! ATVs, campers, boaters, hikers — they’re using the stores, they’re using the gas stations and the restaurants, so the virus is going to be here.”

But Waring said her business is on the verge of closing.

“I didn’t open a business so I could get on welfare,” she said. “I don’t want government assistance. I want to work.”




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