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NH governor will let mask mandate expire on Friday

NH governor will let mask mandate expire on Friday
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New Hampshire Gov. Chris SununuChris SununuSununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate Overnight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson delay prompts criticism of CDC panel | Pfizer CEO says third dose of COVID-19 vaccine 'likely' needed within one year | CDC finds less than 1 percent of fully vaccinated people got COVID-19 NH governor will let mask mandate expire on Friday MORE (R) said Thursday he will not renew the state's mask mandate, and will let it expire on Friday.

"We'll continue to work with public health to encourage social distancing and wearing of masks when appropriate. That will not change whatsoever. What does change is the government's imposed requirement to do so," Sununu said during a press conference.

New Hampshire is the first state in New England to lift its mask mandate, which has been in place since November.

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Sununu said that private businesses, cities, towns, and organizations may continue to keep mask mandates in place. He added that even though the state no longer requires people to wear masks, common sense should still prevail.  

"A state mandate does not have to be in place for simply us to know that wearing a face overing when we're unable to maintain social distancing is just a good idea," the governor said. 

Sununu cited an increasing rate of vaccinations, and a 95 percent decrease in the death rate from the winter surge. The state is averaging about one fatality a day, the lowest since October, before the mask mandate was implemented, Sununu said.

Anyone over the age of 16 in New Hampshire is eligible to receive a vaccine, and 70 percent of residents over age 65 have gotten a shot. People from out of state will be able to get vaccinated on Monday.

However, new infections are on the rise, as are hospitalizations. Both numbers are far from their peaks in early January, and Sununu said he is not worried about the health system being overrun, especially as more people get vaccinated.

“The pandemic is not over. And we are not claiming victory by any means,” Sununu said. "But our success has created opportunities." 

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The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the Granite State has risen over the past two weeks from 369 new cases per day on March 29 to 441 new cases per day on Monday.

In addition, Sununu said all remaining restrictions on businesses will be lifted on May 7, and will become "universal best practices."

By that date, he said 95 percent of New Hampshire residents who want the vaccine will have gotten their first shot.