CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — With coronavirus case counts on the decline and fewer hospitalizations in New Hampshire, the governor's reopening task force on Thursday looked ahead to summer and recommended updated guidance for camp operators that includes keeping children in small groups and more preparation for arrivals and pickups.
Gov. Chris Sununu would need to approve the task force's recommendations, which also include lifting some restrictions for restaurants and bars on the use of pool and billiard tables, dartboards, and karaoke. The group also plans to include new members from industries that have been hit particularly hard, such as performing arts and outdoor entertainment venues, and the wedding industry.
Regarding camps, staff working at overnight camps would quarantine on site for 10 days. Campers attending from outside New England would self-quarantine at home, or in New Hampshire, before arriving at camp. Staff and children also would undergo COVID-19 tests seven days before they arrive, when they get to camp, and then about five to seven days later. Mask-wearing, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting still apply. The guidance is alignment with other residential settings, such as universities.
Children in overnight and day camps would be in groups of no more than 20. Those groups in the overnight camps may have more flexibility to remove their masks when they are in their cabins. Day camps would be asked to avoid field trips to limit risk.
“It's time to look at how we can get kids and families into the kinds of activities and care that they need, especially as we start looking toward the summer," said Patricia Tilley, deputy director of the state's division of public health services. She thanked camp operators for providing their recommendations, many of which were included.
Only four of the state’s 95 overnight summer camps opened last summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. New Hampshire’s summer camp industry employs more than 300 full-time, year-round staff. Before the pandemic, nearly 100,000 children participated each summer.
In other coronavirus-related developments in New Hampshire:
New Hampshire's state, local and county governments are projected to get about $1.5 billion in federal funding in the House coronavirus relief package, U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas said.
Of that amount, $966 million would be for the state, and $559 million would go toward counties, cities and towns, the representatives said in a statement Wednesday.
“This funding is not a fix-all solution, but it is a tremendous step forward toward ensuring no one is left behind as we continue to address this public health crisis," Kuster said. “Now it’s time to get this legislation over the finish line as quickly as possible."
Pappas said, “Without direct, flexible assistance, our state and local governments will be less prepared for the tough months ahead and may be forced to cut back on critical services, lay off workers, or raise taxes. All of those options will hurt Granite Staters and slow our response to the pandemic."
The full House package is expected to include $350 billion for state and local governments nationwide.
Republicans are attacking Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package as too costly, economically damaging and overtly partisan.
Nearly 70,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 394 cases announced Thursday that included partial numbers for two days. One new death was announced, bringing the total to 1,117.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has decreased over the past two weeks, going from 589 new cases per day on Jan. 27 to 361 new cases per day on Wednesday.
The University of New Hampshire in Durham announced a spike in its cases since students returned to campus two weeks ago. As a result, UNH has restricted classes to online only and limited gatherings to no more than six people.