By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu announced increased help on Monday for unemployed people, businesses and hospitals to get through the COVID-19 crisis saying the recently passed federal Cares Act will mean $1.25 billion to help New Hampshire.
The state also announced 56 new positive tests for COVID-19 bringing Monday’s total to 314.
The Paycheck Protection Program will mean small businesses can get 100 percent forgivable loans and benefits for their employees, mortgage interest, rent and utilities for up to eight weeks, Sununu said at a news conference at the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord.
There will be additional funds for substance abuse and mental health services and more money in unemployment checks.
Unemployment benefits will increase from a minimum of $32 to $168 a week and starting next week, the checks will add an additional $600 a week, which will all be federally funded, he said.
He said benefits will be extended by 13 weeks to a total of 39 weeks. In addition to the $50 million the state earmarked for hospitals, Sununu said the federal legislation will provide additional grants to hospitals, non-profits, and other institutions to help cover unreimbursed health care related expenses.
He said New Hampshire folks are doing a good job staying at home and going out only for essential activities, but added we could all do better.
It is imperative in the weeks to come as the numbers continue to rise to stay home, especially for people over age 60 with underlying health conditions, he said.
Essential activities include grocery shopping and getting fresh air and exercise, always keeping social distancing in mind, he said.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” Sununu said.
Business payment deadlines are extended to June 15 for 98% of New Hampshire small businesses, Sununu said. “The state will also be extending interest and dividend payment deadlines to June 15 for 98% of interest and dividend taxpayers.”
Sununu stressed the importance of people traveling into New Hampshire to self-quarantine for 14 days, but he didn’t create a mandatory order as did Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Monday morning.
At 11 a.m. Monday, Scott held a news conference announcing an order on travel and lodging restrictions to ensure compliance with his “Stay Home, Stay Order” and new guidance from the CDC.
“In light of the significant risk posed by the further spread of COVID-19 to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system, I have just ordered anyone coming from outside the state for anything other than an essential purpose to home-quarantine for 14 days or the balance of 14 days dating from the day of arrival,” Scott said on Facebook.
The new Vermont order makes clear that lodging facilities – which includes hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, short term rentals (e.g. VRBO, Homeaway, Airbnb, etc.), and all public and private camping facilities and RV parks – are to be closed except for stated exemptions when supporting the state’s COVID-19 response, according a news release issued by Scott’s office.
Sununu’s request late last week asked people coming into New Hampshire from out-of-state for non-work related reasons to voluntarily self-quarantine, but it is not part of an emergency order. See request below: