By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu says domestic travel rules will be immediately relaxed, retail stores can operate at 100 percent capacity and karaoke, pool and darts can resume at your favorite restaurants and bars.
At his news conference on Thursday, Sununu pointed to the positively trending data on COVID-19 as reasons for more flexibility.
“The trends are very positive all across the country which gives us some flexibility,” Sununu said. The state will continue the mask mandate, Sununu said.
Residents from outside New England no longer have to quarantine prior to arrival to New Hampshire, Sununu said.
“We’re keeping a lot of the pieces in place to make sure we have a handle on the spread of COVID,” Sununu said.
He wants to help businesses plan for the summer, Sununu said.
“We don’t want the tourism industry to suffer… They took the brunt of the hit if you will last year,” Sununu said.
Barber shops and salons may choose to allow walk-in customers without reservations and resume in-person waiting rooms. There will also be more flexibility for overnight and day camps, and hotels and lodging establishments, he said.
10 Percent Vaccinated
Ten percent of eligible New Hampshire people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and 21 percent have had their first shot, officials said.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan announced 341 new infections Thursday, four new deaths – one of which was associated with long-term care – and a total of 2,114 active cases in New Hampshire which is slowly trending downward.
“Still in the last week there have been a total of 13 people that died from COVID-19 in New Hampshire. That number remains too high,” Chan said. “We want to see that come down further.”
He said the state has three vaccines that are effective at preventing COVID-19 and highly effective at preventing severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths.
“I encourage people to take the first vaccine that is offered to them,” Chan said, stressing as he does weekly the importance of continuing to wear a mask, maintaining social distancing, avoiding large groups and washing hands.
Dr. Beth Daley, chief of the state Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, said the state has administered 406,000 doses of vaccines with 280,000 people having received their first dose.
Sununu said the state didn’t receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine the federal government promised this week and it isn’t expected next week either.
Phase 2a regional vaccination clinics start Friday with 39 clinics planning to vaccinate 17,000 school, childcare and youth camp staff. For more information go to vaccines.nh.gov.
Registration for people in Phase 2b opens March 22 for people 50 to 64 years old.
If you are in the first phase and haven’t gotten registered yet, officials said to call 2-1-1.
“This is another logical step as things are going in a good direction,” Sununu said.
“We’re not going to just rip the Band-aid off and open everything up wide open,” Sununu said. “That would not be a very smart thing to do. We’re just not there yet.”
He said his goal is to get there before Memorial Day.
In the meantime, Sununu wants to “take common sense steps to help the industry and do it safely.”