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Rules for reopening taking shape

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – 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 that 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 has been 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.

Other pandemic-related developments:

MANDATORY MASKS?

Officials in a New Hampshire town near the border with Massachusetts are considering requiring face masks in indoor public spaces.

The proposal in Salem would require anyone over age 2 to wear some type of face covering, or face a fine as high as $200.

The town board 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.

THE NUMBERS

As of Monday, 3,160 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 89 from the previous day. There have been at least 133 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.

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.

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