Sununu begins to loosen restrictions

CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu announced his much-anticipated amended order giving more flexibility to people in their daily lives calling it Stay at Home 2.0.

Starting immediately, Sununu re-opened campgrounds to New Hampshire residents and members, expanded some procedures in hospitals for time-sensitive illness, manufacturing and interior state parks, all with guidelines on how to operate in a safe manner.

Universal Guidance can be found here. https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-media/stay-at-home/documents/20200501-universal.pdf

On May 11, Sununu is re-opening golf courses to New Hampshire residents and members, barbers and hair salons by reservation only, retail stores and drive in theaters, all with guidelines.

On May 18, restaurants will be allowed to have outdoor seating along with the take-out and delivery services, again with guidance.

“We’re not taking giant leaps forward. We’re not there yet, but we are taking steps,” Sununu said at a news conference on Friday in Concord outlining his plan.

It will be in effect until May 31st.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said of the last 30 COVID-19 related deaths in recent days, all but one has been in congregate living facilities indicating the community spread is lessening, but there is still a lot of work ahead to protect this vulnerable population.

Chan said nine more people died from COVID-19 bringing the total to 81. He said another 164 people tested positive bringing that total to 2,310 as more people are being tested.

“As I have said in the past, our epidemic curve continues to show a plateau when graphed every day,” Chan said.

“While we test more, we are going to see more cases,” Chan said.

Sununu said while the stay-at-home orders are being extended, he thanked people for “taking this epidemic extremely seriously.”

Sununu recognized the threat at the border with Massachusetts where there have been 3,562 deaths, but said it is important to allow New Hampshire residents to have more flexibility.

But it is another step into the unknown, he said.

Sununu said New Hampshire has had a sustained reduction in percent of positive cases of COVID-19 over a 14-day period.

He said there were “bumps here or there” but he was using a three-day rolling average compared to weeks. Hospital capacity was also a major factor in flexing open portions of the state, Sununu said.

Sununu said there are 4,000 hospital beds in the state and we are using less than half for COVID-19.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said she worked with hospitals on a plan that has many foundational guidelines around safe social distancing.

Emergent or urgent care is graying with “time-sensitive” procedures. These include opening for use of MRI, and CT scans, knee and hip care for chronic pain and biopsies.

Hotels will stay closed as will attractions and indoor theaters.

State parks can remain open but ocean beaches will remain closed, even for walking. The idea of opening would entice folks from “hot spots” like Massachusetts, Sununu said.

He was asked by InDepthNH.org about his 2009 hike of the Appalachian Trail.

“I learned a lot walking from Maine to Georgia. Know your limitations and be patient.

“If you sprint you are never going to get there. You have got to know your limitation what you can and cannot expect…The state is taking steps to reopen the economy in a smart, phased approach that is supported by facts, science and data,” Sununu said.

Each of the decisions and guidance documents below have been reviewed by Dr. Chan and his team at public health, Sununu said.

“The people of New Hampshire have taken this epidemic incredibly seriously,” Sununu said. “We have all played a small part in flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID19. We all know you are healthier at home, and that continues to be true, but we are also taking steps to reopen our economy in a smart, step-by-step approach that is supported by facts, science and data.”

This universal guidance will serve as the bare minimum standards which businesses must meet to maintain or begin operations. For specific industries with specific operational procedures, industry specific guidance for certain sectors can be found below.

All applicable industries are able to start opening up in incremental phases as determined by Public Health.