CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — State government employees who have been working from home during the coronavirus pandemic will be back in their offices by May 10, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.
“All agencies are getting the same message, we’re not picking or choosing certain agencies or divisions or departments,” he said. “We expect to be fully operational and in person, with buildings open to the public, with public access for the business transactions that have to happen one-on-one.”
While Sununu lifted the statewide mask mandate earlier this month, state offices remain subject to any municipal ordinances in their particular location, according to his office. The ordinance in Concord, however, where many state offices are located, only applies to retail businesses.
Individual workers can wear masks if they prefer, Sununu said.
“Obviously we always want them to feel safe, it’s always an option for them to have,” he said.
In other coronavirus developments:
More than 1 million doses of vaccine have been administered in New Hampshire, and more than half of the state’s total population has received at least a first dose, according to Beth Daley, chief of the state bureau of infectious disease control.
“Even if you think you’re at low risk for severe infection, getting vaccinated will help keep you at work or in school, it prevents you from having to quarantine after an exposure and it will help to protect the people around you who may be more vulnerable,” she said.
Appointments are still available for three state-run clinics offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this weekend in Concord, Nashua and Newington. U.S. health officials lifted an 11-day pause on that COVID-19 vaccination last week, after scientific advisers decided its benefits outweigh the rare risk of blood clot.
“It’s hard to reinstill that consumer confidence and encourage folks to come back in,” said Sununu, who himself received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “But it is safe, it is extremely safe.”
More than 94,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 298 cases announced Thursday. Five new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 1,301.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has decrease over the past two weeks, going from 435 on April 13 to 287 on Tuesday.