New Hampshire restaurants reopened for indoor dining Monday, though pleasant weather made patio seating more popular at one breakfast spot.
Erika Kainu, manager of Tucker’s in Merrimack, estimated that at most, eight indoor tables were full at any one time Monday morning, with many customers opting to sit outside instead. The restaurant seats 100 people, but is limited to 50 under new rules meant to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
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Customers were happy to return, as were staffers, she said.
“The team is really excited to be back, we’re really happy to have customers in the restaurant,” she said. “It’s obviously been an adjustment, but the team is so flexible and resilient.”
Restaurants initially were restricted to takeout and delivery after Gov. Chris Sununu issued a stay-at-home order in March. Outdoor dining resumed May 18, and as of Monday, indoor dining is allowed at tables spread 6 feet apart.
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Restaurants in Rockingham, Hillsborough, Merrimack and Strafford counties are limited to 50% capacity, however, not just because the vast majority of the state’s COVID-19 cases have occurred there, but because of their proximity to the Massachusetts border.
Monday marked the first day of the state’s move from a stay-at-home order to what Sununu has called a “safer at home” advisory.
As of Sunday, 5,318 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 21 from the previous day. Two new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 320.