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Task force recommends lodging reopen to N.H. residents

By Paula Tracy | May 23, 2020

CONCORD – Hotels, motels, cabins, and short-term rentals could open to New Hampshire residents and others who sign a document attesting to their good health practices during the pandemic, the Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force recommended on Friday.

The lodging industry is desperate to open up as their busy summer season begins without them.

Gov. Chris Sununu has said lodging is a “tough one” as he does not want to attract people who may have the highly contagious virus into the state, particularly its rural regions, which have been largely spared the worst of COVID-19 compared to neighboring Massachusetts.

Sununu will look at the revised guidance which would allow that a person making a reservation attests that they have “remained isolated at home, going into the community for only necessities and when outside of the home, maintaining social distance and wearing a mask whenever within six feet of another.”

The draft guidance which passed the task force unanimously is here:

https://www.nheconomy.com/getmedia/6572a09b-8f8a-4482-8922-e8d9e3a08835/DRAFT-Lodging-Guidance-5-22-2020.pdf

It will also first be vetted by top state health officials before going to Sununu with its suggested guidance.

Cosmetology

A request to allow cosmetologists more than an hour to do their work during COVID-19 and more discretion on space requirements as they reopen will go to the governor and the state health department, as well.https://www.nheconomy.com/getmedia/f674a597-24e8-4108-b072-1fae4aa405fc/DRAFT-Cosmetology-Guidance-5-21-2020_1.pdf

The task force also voted Friday to loosen some restrictions on child care center capacities following Sununu’s announcement Monday that allows centers to reopen.

The virus has killed about 200 residents so far in New Hampshire and closed much of the state’s traditional economy since it became an issue in March.

Sununu in recent weeks has announced openings and is considering a number of other industries for reopening.

In April, he asked his 19-member task force members to listen to industry guidelines for reopening with enhanced public health provisions and asked them help craft guidance for reopening.

The task force heard two hours of public comment Friday in which members of the cosmetology industry pressed for more time and fewer regulations. It also heard primarily from owners of day care centers, tattoo studios, and operators of vacation cabins. All sectors received approved guidance.

Listening to the testimony was Trish Tilley, deputy commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tilley thanked the members of the public for their input.

“We really value that information on the front end,” said Tilley, before draft guidelines head to the governor.

For the tourism industry and at Hampton Beach, opening up lodging is “extremely important,” said John Nyhan, a member of the task force, who owns a number of lodging establishments himself on Hampton Beach.

He noted that North Conway is also pushing hard for this guidance as its lifeblood is vacationers.

D.J. Bettencourt said a number of calls on lodging were received during the public comment period and said he will forward those to the governor.

The calls were primarily from people who own cabins and wanted them considered similar to campgrounds, which are already open for state residents and existing campground members.

Driver Education

State Rep. Bill Marsh, D-Brookfield, said he wanted the task force to know that he and state Rep. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, have finalized guidance on reopening driver’s education and hopefully there will be a vote on that next week once the industry has had a chance to review it.

Earlier this week, the task force also approved draft guidance to allow all Seacoast beaches to reopen for transitory use with 50 percent of the parking allowed. The governor has yet to approve that guidance as well.

A copy of the regional beach plan is here.

https://www.nheconomy.com/getmedia/8c7536bd-5c05-4fa1-b9db-04b23ba7abaf/Regional-beach-plan-5-21-20-Final-Draft-(2).pdf.

This story is courtesy of InDepthNH.org.

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