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Will NH Beaches Be Allowed to Open on June 1?

Gov. Chris Sununu said he plans to announce additional areas of the economy that can reopen in the coming weeks on Friday

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New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Wednesday he is pushing to see if the state can reopen its coastal beaches to the public on June 1.

Sununu announced earlier this week that paintball and mini golf businesses and guides for outdoor hiking could reopen. And he said he hopes to announce additional areas that can reopen in the coming weeks on Friday.

He didn't say if beaches will be included in Friday's announcement, but he did say he is trying to meet a request that was made to reopen the beaches by June 1.

"We're going to try to meet that," he said. "No promises."

Some beaches in Maine have already reopened, and Massachusetts beaches are slated to open on Memorial Day. But New Hampshire's coastal beaches have remained closed.

Other small beaches on lakes and ponds that are town owned or in the state parks system are already open, but the state is asking people not to sit on blankets.

Sununu said he hopes people will continue to obey the beach ban during the normally busy holiday weekend.

An official proposal for reopening New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach from the coronavirus stay-at-home order is being prepared for Gov. Chris Sununu’s review.

"We'll try to manage those crowds the best we can," he said. "We don't want to come down with a heavy hammer."

"We do ask the citizens of New Hampshire to be patient," Sununu added. "We know it's going to be warm. I get it. We're asking folks to have the discipline to not jump in the water just yet. If we can wait a little longer and get it right, it allows us to get it right for the long term. It is only May. We want to make sure we get it right for June, July and August."

Health officials announced 149 new coronavirus cases and eight new deaths Wednesday. Six of the deaths were in long-term care facilities.

They also announced outbreaks at two more long-term care facilities -- Community Bridges in Belmont with 6 cases and Greenbriar HealthCare in Nashua with 10 cases.

Restaurants across the state opened for outdoor dining on Monday in the latest phase of New Hampshire's reopening plan. They had previously been restricted to take-out and delivery only, and can now serve diners outside, with tables six feet apart.

Restaurants in New Hampshire were allowed to reopen Monday for outdoor seating only after weeks of being take-out amid the coronavirus shutdown.

Staff who work directly with customers must wear masks, and customers are asked to wear them as well as they enter and exit the property, and if they go inside to use restrooms.

On Tuesday, a task force on reopening the state's economy forwarded recommendations to Sununu saying that children should be allowed to return to camps and athletic programs under strict safety measures this summer.

The recommendations lay out proposed rules for day camps, residential camps and outdoor team sports. The group also approved proposals for museums and acupuncture as well as indoor restaurant dining and the catering of larger events such as weddings.

On day camps, task force members said they took into consideration that parents will need care for children as they return to work. The rules call for keeping campers outside as much as possible, and separating them into groups that would move about “as a self-contained bubble.” Similarly, campers and staff at overnight camps would be separated into “cohort groups” with limited interaction with other groups. The recommendations note that camps are willing to push back their usual late June start dates.

New Hampshire reopened retail stores, salons and golf courses Monday, but customers will notice things look a little different.

As for sports, the task force recommends an initial phase during which team training would be allowed for groups of up to 10 people. In Phase 2, training sessions could expand to up to 50 people, and games and scrimmages would be allowed for baseball and softball. Spectators would remain six feet away from anyone from another household.

Sen. Shannon Chandley, a member of the task force, said she would write a letter urging public health officials to research the risk associated with multiple players handling the same baseball or softball.

“There is risk involved in any of these reopenings, and we as a task force weigh that very, very carefully,” she said. “But I’m still struggling.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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