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By CAROL ROBIDOUX, Manchester Ink Link
MANCHESTER, NH – Is New Hampshire considering a “lockdown” as a growing number of states have already announced?
Gov. Chris Sununu announced a news conference set for Monday at 1 p.m. in Concord, but has not publicly spoken of a plan to order a “shelter in place” for residents, or a mandatory closure of businesses.
When asked Sunday about whether the governor would consider a lockdown in New Hampshire and, if so, how much notice would citizens have and what would such restrictions look like, Todd Michael of the State Joint Information Center sent the following reply:
“Governor Chris Sununu has publicly stated that a lockdown is not necessary at this time given the current conditions in the State and the cooperation of the public with measures already being taken, including social distancing, school closings, gathering prohibitions, restriction of restaurants to take-out and delivery, etc.”
The terms “shelter in place,” and “lockdown” have traditionally been associated only with public threats to include mass shooters or environmental dangers and exercised in school communities or specific geographical settings. However, the growing concern for community exposure to the novel coronavirus in workplaces that remain open – including supermarkets and department stores is growing. Such concern has prompted renewed reminders of the importance of “social distancing” and proper precautions, from masks and gloves to hand sanitizer – including from Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, who posted the following message on social media Saturday:
Craig would support a statewide “work from home” mandate, said Lauren Smith, her chief of staff, on Sunday.
“The city can’t mandate a ‘shelter in place’ policy, only the state can. That said, there’s a shortage of testing across the state, leading to many people who may be COVID-19 positive to not know they’re infected, and unknowingly spreading the virus. The Mayor has told the Governor that if he were to issue a 100 percent work-from-home policy, similar to what other states are implementing, she would 100 percent support that decision,” Smith said.
A petition has been started on change.org by Ann Guillemette of Manchester urging Sununu to issue a state lockdown to preserve New Hampshire’s economy and healthcare system. She is hoping to reach 500 signatures. Writes Guillemette:
“We need to stay strong and all do our part! Waiting to have a mandated lockdown will only weaken our healthcare system and our economy! Please let Governor Sununu know you support this now! Waiting until a federal mandate is in place will weaken NH so badly but if we act now we can keep NH strong and have a better outcome on the other side of this crisis!”
Among the 230+ people who’ve already signed the petition is Kristin Austin of Bedford.
“I support it so we can protect our already overworked healthcare workers from a catastrophic influx of patients,” said Austin.
“The longer we wait to shut everything down the longer our restaurants and other businesses that are already closed will suffer losses,” Austin said. “We need to stop the spread of COVID-19 so these businesses can resume their operations and get people back to work.”
Prior to COVID-19, “shelter in place” orders have been issued by local officials during or immediately after an emergency, like a mass shooting, chemical spill, or natural disaster. The new normal means redefining what “shelter in place” means – it is seen as an essential tool for limiting and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Several governors (see below) have mandated residents stay in their homes and limit travel to essential trips such as grocery shopping, banking or seeking medical care. In some states, shelter in place orders have provisions permitting residents to walk or exercise outside in public spaces, so long as they follow the “six-feet away” social distancing protocol.
What other state restrictions look like as of Sunday evening, according to the Wall Street Journal:
• Effective 8 p.m. on Sunday, all businesses that aren’t deemed essential must shut down their in-office personnel functions. Gov. Cuomo’s order exempts financial institutions, retailers, pharmacies, hospitals, news media, manufacturing plants and transportation companies, among others.
• “Non-essential gatherings” of any size and for any reason are temporarily banned.
• In public, people must keep at least 6 feet away from each other.
• Residents 70 and older and people with compromised immune systems or underlying illnesses must remain indoors (unless exercising outside), wear a mask in the company of others and prescreen visitors by taking their temperature.
• Casinos, gyms, theaters, shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys are closed.
• Barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing salons, nail salons, hair-removal services will be closed starting Saturday at 8 p.m.
• Bars and restaurants are limited to delivery and takeout.
Gov. Newsom has ordered everyone in California to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, obtain health care, or go to an “essential job.” People working in critical infrastructure sectors may continue to go to their jobs.
• People outside must keep at least 6 feet of distance from each other.
• Dine-in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms and fitness studios are closed.
• Gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores, banks and laundry services remain open.
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered “non-life-sustaining businesses” in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of Thursday evening. The restriction exempts sectors, like gas stations, food retailers and transportation companies. It also doesn’t apply to “virtual or telework operations.” Businesses that don’t comply could face enforcement actions starting Saturday.
• Pennsylvanian residents are strongly encouraged to refrain from nonessential travel, but it isn’t a requirement.
• Restaurants and bars must stop all dine-in services.
• Gov. J.B. Pritzker commanded residents to stay at home, leaving only for essential travel and activities such as health and safety reasons, getting supplies and caring for others.
• The Illinois directive says, “non-essential business and operations must cease,” a requirement with many exceptions. Nonessential businesses can still allow employees to work remotely and process payroll and employee benefits, among other limited activities.
• Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited with limited exceptions.
• All places of public amusement are closed to the public, such as carnivals, amusement parks and concert halls.
Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive instructs all Texans to avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people starting Saturday morning.
• Texas residents “shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors.”
• People may not visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered the closure of all restaurant dining rooms and bars in the state, as well as concert houses and other entertainment venues in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
• The city of Miami Beach directed all hotels to close down by Monday night.
• Miami-Dade County has shut down beaches, parks, bars and restaurants.
• Days after closing Las Vegas casinos, Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered a shutdown of “non-essential businesses,” including movie theaters, massage parlors, brothels, nightclubs, hair and nail salons and gyms.
• Retail cannabis dispensaries may operate by delivery.
• No on-site dining at restaurants.
• Gov. Phil Murphyordered all New Jersey residents to stay home but with a host of exceptions, including for getting takeout food, seeking medical or emergency services and exercising or engaging in outdoor activities with family. Gatherings such as parties, celebrations or other social events are canceled.
• The governor ordered all “non-essential retail businesses” closed to the public, excluding grocers, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and banks, among others.
• All businesses and non-for-profits organizations in New Jersey must accommodate their workforce for telework or work-from-home arrangements “wherever practicable.”
• Among those allowed to be physically present at work are law-enforcement officers, first responders, cashiers, store clerks, construction workers and utility workers, among others.
• Gov. Ned Lamont ordered nonessential businesses to eliminate their in-person workforces by Monday at 8 p.m. through April 22, exempting a broad range of retail, manufacturing, legal and financial services sectors.
• The state recommends that everyone keep at least 6 feet away from each other and cancel nonessential public community gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.
• Bars and restaurants are limited to food and nonalcoholic beverage takeout and delivery.
• The state has closed gyms, fitness centers, large shopping malls, movie theaters and places of public amusement like water parks, aquariums, zoos and arcades. Parks remain open.
• Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a general stay-at-home order effective Monday at 5 p.m.
• Residents are instructed to stay home unless obtaining food, medicine or medical care, exercising, going to and from the home of a family member or a place of worship, or commuting to an essential job.
• People are required to stay at least 6 feet away from others when they go outside.
• All state office buildings are closed to the public.
• Gatherings of 10 people or more must be postponed or canceled.
• Places of public amusement like playgrounds and theaters must be closed to the public, as well as personal-care and grooming businesses and most mall stores.
• Gov. Michael DeWine and state officials announced a stay-at-home order beginning Tuesday and remaining in effect at least until April 7.
• People can leave their homes for health and safety reasons, to obtain supplies and services, for outdoor activity, to take care of others or to perform essential jobs, like a grocery store clerk, food manufacturer, bank employee, journalist, attorney or first responder.
• People must stay at least 6 feet away from each other when outside.
• The state has banned gatherings outside a single household or living unit, as well as any gatherings of more than 10 people.
• Places of public amusement are closed. Restaurants for takeout and delivery are permitted, but no dine-in.