CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Dentists can reopen their offices Monday, and public colleges are preparing to welcome students back to campus in the fall. But a decision on beaches might take a while, as New Hampshire continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
Walking, swimming and other motion-based activities would be allowed at Hampton Beach starting June 1 with sunbathing and small gatherings to follow a few weeks later under a proposal being considered by the Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force.
John Nyhan, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, serves on both the governor’s task force and a separate task force on reopening the beach. He presented the latter’s plan to the governor’s group on Friday.
The plan calls for closing a portion of the main road parallel to the beach to vehicle traffic and cutting available parking in half. Sunbathing and congregating on the beach would be allowed by June 27.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu praised the effort but said the plan, including the timeline, may have to be adjusted.
“I don’t think we’re going to make any decisions immediately about where to go with this,” he said.
OPEN (ALMOST) WIDE:
New Hampshire dentists have gotten the go-ahead to resume some routine work starting Monday.
While dentistry offices were not ordered to close, most if not all have limited their practice to emergency work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Under guidance released Friday by Sununu, dentists may resume elective and orthodontic procedures if they comply with American Dental Association guidance regarding protective personal equipment. The state is not recommending the resumption of elective cosmetic procedures or the use of ultrasonic scaling.
New Hampshire is partnering with an urgent care center chain to offer testing for antibodies to the coronavirus.
ClearChoiceMD, which has eight locations around the state, will perform the tests to help state officials get a better sense of how many people have already been exposed to the virus.
Testing for the virus, meanwhile, has increased to 1,500 per day, and the state expects that number to rise over 2,000 by the end of next week. On Thursday, the state began allowing a broad group of people to schedule tests without a doctor’s referral. By Friday morning, 3,500 people had done so.
The task force advising Gov. Chris Sununu on reopening New Hampshire’s economy won’t be drafting specific guidance for every industry, its leader said Friday.
Doing so would be impractical and amount to “inappropriate micromanagement,” task force leader D.J. Bettencourt said Friday at the close of a two-hour public input session.
While the group is examining specific sectors such as lodging, amusements, sports and religious gatherings, Bettencourt said some industries may fall under the universal guidelines that have been issued for all businesses regarding screening of employees, workplace cleaning and other practices to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.
“We are looking to put a list together that we can take to public health and say, ‘We believe these businesses can go forward using the universal guidance documents, and we’ll see what they say,” he said. “The challenge all of us have is that there are such diverse views on how to move forward.”
The task force took dozens of calls Friday, ranging from a father concerned about his daughter’s July wedding to a tattoo artist who said if he can’t open his business in June, he won’t have a business left to run in July.
Sununu last week announced specific guidelines for the reopening of retail stores, golf courses, outdoor restaurant dining and hair salons over the next few weeks.
New Hampshire’s public four-year colleges and universities and its community colleges plan to welcome students back to their campuses across the state this fall, officials said Friday.
The University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System are working with state leaders and health professionals to develop guidelines and criteria to support a safe return, while also preparing for other scenarios should it be necessary to continue some form of remote learning.
As of Friday, 2,947 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 104 from the previous day. There have been at least 121 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
(© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)