The Governor's Economic Re-Opening Task Force unanimously approved reopening guidance plans Tuesday (May 19) for amateur sports, overnight summer camps, day camps, acupuncture, museums, and restaurants serving wedding events.
The guidelines will now be sent to the Division of Public Health Services for approval by Benjamin Chan, MD, the state epidemiologist. They must then be signed off on by Gov. Chris Sununu before they are implemented.
“The Governor created the task force to solicit stakeholder input and formulate draft guidance for various industries across the state,” Ben Vihstadt, communications director for Sununu office said on Tuesday. “All guidance the task force passes has to then go before Governor Sununu and State Epidemiologist Ben Chan and the team at Public Health before anything is finalized.”
In addition to the universal guidance already issued, business owners, organizations, and individuals must follow sector-specific guidance, which is being released by the task force.
Although a timeline is not in place for when the guidelines will be adopted, the documents show what reopening might look like for summer camps, caterers, and amateur athletes.
The task force approved guidelines allowing day camps and overnight camps, although no date has been set. Still, task force member Chris Emond, who was the workgroup chair for drafting camp guidelines, says that both overnight and day camps can open safely this summer.
“I would feel comfortable sending my kid,” said Emond, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire and father of two.
In the day camp guidelines, the task force noted that camps are important, both for providing childcare as more parents return to work and for providing a sense of normalcy to children.
The guidelines for summer camps urge frequent hand washing, social distancing, and screening of both staff and campers for symptoms of COVID-19. Children will be screened during drop-off and adults dropping off should not enter the camp, the guidelines say. Camps are asked to adjust drop-off procedures so that there are no lines and that social distancing can be maintained during drop-off.
Campers will be divided into small groups, which are maintained through the camp session in order to minimize exposure.
“There is a concern [for] ‘Camper Boredom’ – camper and staff burnout if they are only interacting with the same 12-16 people every day and without a variety of activities,” the guidelines note, so groups can interact if the activity allows for social distancing.
Overnight camps will take a similar approach, according to the guidelines for overnight camps.
“Many residential Camps, with acceptable modifications, can quarantine, functioning as a single-family home and shelter-in-place together for the duration of the camp session regardless of camp size,” the guidelines say.
Camp activities will be conducted outdoors as often as possible, and, when the weather is bad, groups will be kept separately indoors. Campers’ equipment — like lunches or changes of clothes — must be clearly labeled and kept away from other camper’s equipment. Campers won’t be asked to wear masks, since the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend masks for kids, but staff must wear masks in certain situations, including during check-in. Field-trips and all-camp activities are off the table unless social distancing guidelines change.
If a child or staff-member test positive for the virus, the camp must notify all families and staff.
With these measures in place, Emond said he hopes to see camps operating during 2020. After quarantine, camp is especially important, he said.
“I think it’s going to be even more valuable this summer, regardless of how different it might look,” he said. “You’re never going to eliminate all the risks. You can’t in this environment. But if camps follow those procedures, you’re going to be as safe as possible.”
Changes to catering and events
The task force also approved a change to restaurant and foodservice guidelines. The initial guidelines did not allow for catering events during phase one, the current phase, which took effect yesterday (May 18), allowing restaurants to serve food outdoors while maintaining social distancing.
“Upon thinking about it, and input from the industry, we realized that an outdoor catered event is no different from a restaurant seated outside,” said State Representative Timothy Lang (R, Belknap) during Monday’s task force meeting.
If the governor approves the change, caterers could begin serving outdoor events, following the same protocols as restaurants with outdoor seating.
Sports, museums, and acupuncture
The task force approved guidelines for amateur sports to resume. Initially, this is limited to outdoor sports but includes both low-contact sports like baseball, and high-contact sports like football. Teams of up to 10 people can practice together, using shared equipment.
Initially, there will be no competition: that’s part of phase 2 reopening for sports. The competition will start with low-contact sports, the guidelines say. Teams will take precautions to minimize contact, like using their own set of balls when fielding and using hand sanitizer before taking the field. Individuals and their equipment should remain six-feet apart whenever possible.
Acupuncture can be offered with safety precautions, including providers, staff, and clients wearing masks and being screened for coronavirus symptoms, the guidelines say.
Guidelines for museums and art galleries say that these establishments can open at 50% capacity, with groups limited to 10 people. Staff must wear masks and make them available to patrons who request them, and one-way traffic should be established when possible, the guidelines say. Importantly, all admission tickets are eligible for refund and rescheduling.
The rest of the week
The task force will meet again Wednesday and Thursday this week, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. The phone meetings are open to the public and can be accessed by calling 800-356-8278 and entering PIN 194499 when prompted. Information on the meeting agenda is available on the task force website.
On Wednesday, the task force expects to discuss draft guidelines for the reopening of religious organizations, said State Senator Bob Giuda, workgroup chair for religious organizations.
On Friday, the task force will open for public comment from 9-11 a.m.
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