Editor’s Note: This story will be updated when Gov. Chris Sununu responds.
By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Friday banned multiple household social gatherings, suspended recreational sports, closed bars and social clubs effective Saturday and took other strong measures to curb COVID-19 as the surge in cases continues.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu didn’t immediately respond when asked about the Vermont measures. At a press conference on Thursday, Sununu warned that worse days are ahead for the state, but not bad enough to take additional actions.
On Thursday, the number of cases in New Hampshire rose to 323 new cases with three deaths and the state is now limiting contact tracing. New Hampshire is the only New England state without a state-wide mask mandate.
“I know this is incredibly discouraging,” Scott said at a news conference in Montpelier, “especially because many of you have worked so hard and we had much success for so long.”
But this is a new phase of the virus and the numbers are climbing 12 days after people gathered for Halloween parties, Scott said. Social gatherings like baby showers, tailgate parties and barbecues where people let their guard down and don’t wear masks or socially distance are behind some of the rise, he said.
Scott’s amended executive order Friday stated: “Attendance at all public and private social, recreational and entertainment gatherings, indoor and outdoor, including large social gatherings incidental to ceremonies, holiday gatherings, parties and celebrations, shall be limited to participation with only members of a single household.”
This doesn’t prohibit the gathering of members living in the same residence. Individuals who live alone may gather with members of their immediate family residing in a different household.
All restaurants must be closed to in-person dining at 10 p.m., but may provide food and beverage alcohol through curbside pick-up, drive-through, and delivery services after 10 p.m. They must maintain a log of all employees, customers, members and guests and their complete contact information for 30 days.
Customers must agree to be contacted by Vermont’s public health contact tracers, provide complete information and comply with recommended quarantine and testing or they could face referral to the attorney general for enforcement.
Friday’s order also included the following directives:
All students returning home from a college or university, in-state or out of state, must quarantine at home for 14 days, with a test for COVID-19 strongly encouraged, or quarantine for no less than seven days at which time they must be tested for COVID-19.
All businesses, not-for-profit entities and municipal government entities in the state shall reinstitute to the maximum extent possible telecommuting or work from home procedures.
The order is in force until Dec. 15 at midnight.