On Monday June 15 at 11:59pm, New Hampshire’s stay-at-home order that first went into place on March 27 officially expired, and was replaced with a stay-at-home advisory, allowing a majority of the economy to begin to reopen.
As a result of this, numerous sectors of the New Hampshire economy that have been shut down since the start of the pandemic will being their first stages of reopening. Among those scheduled to reopen this week are multiple recreational businesses and activities including amateur and recreational sports, bowling alleys, entertainment centers, gyms, museums and pools. In addition, the new order allows for the reopening of movie theatres, performing arts, and amusement parks starting on June 29.
While the reopening is certainly a good sign, it certainly does not come without added risks. With large gatherings of people in entertainment centers and amusement parks, of which many visitors are coming from out of state, there is certainly risk of greater rates of infection.
Despite this, there is some hope that the policies put into action by the state government as a condition to reopening businesses, namely greater sanitation practices and an emphasis on mask wearing, could turn the tide in overcoming the pandemic.
A team of California and Texas researchers found that consistent mask wearing was the greatest single factor in preventing spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). There is also some evidence that suggests consistent mask wearing by a majority of the population, even in situations where social distancing and other measures are lacking, can prevent a widespread resurgence of this pandemic.
This is giving a lot of optimism to many New Hampshire businesses that heavily rely on summer tourism in being able to complete their summer season without being shut down early. With tourism being the second largest industry in New Hampshire, it has been a chief concern of the governor and legislature to make sure the tourism industry can reopen in some regard on time.
While the reopening of businesses and a reintegration of a “new normal” for social life being obvious positives for the people of New Hampshire and the UNH community, there are some downsides, especially for those benefiting from COVID-19 relief. Under executive order 51, Governor Chris Sununu is ending the protections against evictions and foreclosures that came to be as a part of COVID-19 relief. In addition, with many businesses reopening, unemployment benefits are beginning to be lost by many who had been previously laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These combined with the ending of federal support for unemployment, set to expire on July 31, could have serious consequences for those unable to go back to work, and those in sectors that have been seriously damaged by the pandemic.
Despite the problems that might arrive as a result of the continued reopening of the economy, it is certain that many, if not most people are happy finding a new semblance of normalcy in these troubling times.