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New Hampshire to allow restaurants to fully open for indoor dining

New Hampshire to allow restaurants to fully open for indoor dining
© UPI Photo

All restaurants in New Hampshire will be allowed to open at 100 percent capacity for indoor dining effective immediately, Gov. Chris SununuChris SununuThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans New Hampshire to issue statewide mask mandate GOP holds line in state legislatures, dealing blow to Democrats MORE (R) said Friday.

Restaurants will need to maintain the state's coronavirus reopening guidelines, including keeping six feet between tables and a mask requirement for all staff who interact with customers. Patrons are also prohibited from standing at bars.

Sununu said the state's infection numbers have been trending in the right direction, especially in the southern counties that had been hit harder.

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According to Johns Hopkins University figures, the state has a little more than 7,000 cases of COVID-19, with a seven-day average of 18 new cases. The state's positivity rate is below 2 percent.    

Under the previous rules, restaurants in the northern six counties of the state were allowed to open completely for indoor dining, while restaurants in four of the state's southern counties were only allowed to open at 50 percent capacity.

The aim was to discourage Massachusetts residents from crossing the border and dining out at New Hampshire restaurants while their own restaurants were still closed. 

During a news conference, Sununu said there have been no signs of increased infections in the areas that have been fully reopened, so health officials are confident the rest of the state can reopen fully as well.

Sununu said the decision was made in part because restaurants may not be able to offer outdoor seating as the weather cools down. 

He noted that if infection trends worsen he may revisit the decision, but a single outbreak would likely not lead to rolling back reopenings.

New Hampshire requires customers in restaurants to wear masks when not seated at their tables.