Gov. Chris Sununu announced on Thursday, April 15 that the statewide mask mandate would be lifted on Friday, April 16.  

The mandate, which was implemented on November 20, 2020, comes after “a reduction in the state’s 7-day average of daily deaths to 0.6, the lowest since October of 2020 before the mask mandate had been implemented, as hospitalizations remain at a manageable level, and as over 70% of those 65+ have been vaccinated,” according to the press release

“We have been very careful from the beginning of this pandemic to take items up individually and make informed decisions,” said Sununu. “We have never set arbitrary dates unsupported by the data and the science. It is important to note that this mandate going away will not limit or prevent the ability of private businesses and local cities and towns from requiring masks. Of course, we continue to encourage folks to wear masks when they are unable to socially distanced.” 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said that the New Hampshire public health is continuing to work toward protecting the health of all residents and communities. 

“Throughout the pandemic, we have advised people to wear face masks to protect themselves and prevent COVID-19 from spreading, even when there was no mask mandate. The lifting of the mandate does not diminish the importance of wearing a face mask. The threat to health from COVID-19 is real. Even as restrictions are reduced, we are still in a pandemic and levels of COVID-19 remain high across the State. Therefore, we ask that people continue to take steps to protect their own health, the health of their family and friends, and the health of their community,” said Chan. 

The town of Durham has had an ordinance requiring the use of facial coverings since August 3, 2020, and Town Administrator Todd Selig said that despite Sununu’s recent announcement, the requirement of masks in Durham will remain in effect until at least the beginning of June.  

“Throughout the pandemic, the Town and UNH have jointly advised people to wear face masks to protect themselves and prevent COVID-19 from spreading,” said Selig in an email statement to The New Hampshire. He echoed Chan, stating, “The lifting of the state-wide mandate by the Governor does not diminish the importance of wearing a face mask. The threat to public health from COVID-19 is real.”  

As of April 14, 23.3% of the New Hampshire population is fully vaccinated and 44.8% of the New Hampshire population has received one of the two doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. There are currently 3,763 active COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire with a 5.3% seven-day positivity rate. At UNH, there are 127 active cases among students, faculty, staff and contractors as of April 15 at 8 a.m. 

Selig encouraged members of the Durham and University of New Hampshire (UNH) community and those outside the community to remain vigilant, strongly recommending that “people continue to take steps to protect their own health, the health and safety of their family and friends, and the health of their local communities:  Wear a mask around others, get vaccinated, avoid close physical contact, monitor your health, wash hands/disinfect.” 

Photo Courtesy of Josh Rogers NHPR, November 2020.