New Hampshire beaches to open June 1 with restrictions

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire beaches will open for active recreation June 1, youth sports teams can start practicing and hair salons can expand services as the coronavirus pandemic eases.

Developments Friday in New Hampshire:

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ON THE COAST:

New Hampshire’s short stretch of coastline will reopen to swimmers, walkers and runners June 1, but sunbathers will have to wait, Gov. Chris Sununu said Friday.

The rules for reopening beaches in Hampton, North Hampton, Rye, Seabrook, and New Castle include closing a portion of the main road parallel to the beach in Hampton to vehicle traffic and cutting available parking in half in state-owned lots. “Active recreation,” including surfing, will be allowed, but group sports, picnics and lounging will not.

“What’s the line in the sand? This is not the time to drop your blanket and sit around. We want people to be moving,” Sununu said.

The announcement came as much of the state experienced its hottest weather of the year and just ahead of what usually is a busy holiday weekend for tourism.

“I know I’m giving a press conference and it’s about 85-90 degrees outside, and unfortunately beaches will not be open this weekend,” Sununu said. “We’re taking a very measured approach.”

Massachusetts beaches will reopen Monday with restrictions including, group sizes of no more than 10 people and blankets spaced at least 12-feet apart. In Maine, 10 coastal state parks will reopen June 1. Some individual towns there have reopened their beaches, with similar restrictions on sunbathing as those being enacted in New Hampshire.

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THE NUMBERS

As of Friday, 4,014 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 81 from the previous day. Five new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 204. Four of the new deaths were residents of long-term care facilities.

Health officials on Friday said a teenager Hillsborough County is the first in New Hampshire to be diagnosed with a syndrome affecting children that is thought to be linked to COVID-19. Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome affects blood vessels and organs and has symptoms including prolonged fever, abdominal pain and vomiting. It has been reported in more than a dozen countries.

The New Hampshire patient is under age 19, has been hospitalized and is recovering, said Dr. Ben Chan, the state epidemiologist.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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GET MOVING

Youth sports teams can resume outdoor practice and training sessions in small groups, Gov. Chris Sununu said Friday.

The rules limit sessions to 10 or fewer players and coaches and apply to amateur and youth sports, including athletic leagues and organizations.

Sununu also issued rules for the partial reopening of gyms and fitness centers starting June 1, with only small group classes allowed.

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PERSONAL CARE

Sununu issued updated rules for hair salons and barber shops Friday, as well as new guidance for tattoo artists, manicurists and other businesses.

The updated rules allow hair salons and barber shops to resume all services with up to seven work stations per 1,000 square feet. The businesses were allowed to reopen May 11 but were limited to cuts and root touch-ups and a maximum of 10 people inside at a time.

Ahead of the announcement, tattoo artists and estheticians pushed back against a requirement that they to wear not only cloth face coverings, but also goggles or face shields when they reopen June 1.

Acupuncturists, massage therapists and tanning salons also can reopen June 1.

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CHILD CARE

Face masks are now optional for workers at New Hampshire child care centers under updated rules issued by Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday.

Centers, which were allowed to reopen May 18, also can increase capacity by dividing rooms to accommodate groups of 10 children and staff, and workers can feed children without keeping them 6 feet apart.

“You’d have to have more than two arms to accomplish that,” said Chris Emond, director of the Concord Boys and Girls Club and a member of the task force that recommended the changes.

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LODGING

A group making recommendations on reopening the economy amended its guidance for lodging Friday to restrict hotels, inns and other establishments to New Hampshire residents only, or to out-of-staters who have quarantined at home for 14 days before arriving.

During a public input session, several owners of seasonal cottages and other accommodations pleaded with the task force to allow them to reopen as soon as possible.

“I know the governor’s intention was to keep out-of-state residents out of New Hampshire; however, that’s not working,” said Sherry Waring, owner of Twin Mountain Cottage in Carroll.

"We’re watching the traffic go by, oh my! ATVs, campers, boaters, hikers — they’re using the stores, they’re using the gas stations and the restaurants, so the virus is going to be here.”

But Waring said her business is on the verge of closing.

“I didn’t open a business so I could get on welfare," she said. “I don’t want government assistance. I want to work.”

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Associated Press writer Kathy McCormack contributed to this report.