By Staff

CONCORD, N.H. (CBS) — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has announced that the state’s mask mandate will not be renewed on Friday. Here are four things to know about this milestone for the Granite State in the coronavirus pandemic.

1. New Hampshire implemented its mask mandate in November when cases were rising and was the last New England state to do so. It required everyone over the age of 5 in the state to wear a mask or cloth face covering any time they are in public, indoors or outdoors, and unable to keep a social distance of six feet away from others outside their household. That mandate will expire on Friday. “We appreciate the sacrifice people made. We know it wasn’t easy for folks. But we will be ending the mask mandate,” Sununu said.

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2. The move comes at a time when all adults in New Hampshire are eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. So far, over 70% of the 65+ population has been vaccinated, Sununu said. Health officials said the state’s 7-day average of daily deaths has fallen to 0.6, the lowest since October 2020 before the mask mandate was in place, and hospitalizations are at a “manageable level.” “We have been very careful from the beginning of this pandemic to take items up individually and make informed decisions,” Sununu said. “We have never set arbitrary dates unsupported by the data and the science.

3. Sununu said that the mask mandate being lifted will not prevent private businesses from requiring customers to wear masks. Cities and towns can also continue to require face masks. Some businesses said the mask mandate has hurt sales and think ending it will make for a better shopping experience. The governor said “we continue to encourage folks to wear masks when they are unable to socially distance.”

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4. Some worry that this decision comes too soon. Tufts Medical Center epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron tells WBZ-TV “There’s still a lot of COVID in the northeast, in general, the northeast lights up on the map.” She worries about immunocompromised or unvaccinated people who might enter a business in New Hampshire this summer. “And not have them protected by a mask mandate. Because we do know, without the mandate, a lot of people won’t do it.”


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