New Hampshire Governor Issues Mask Mandate for Large Gatherings

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - AUGUST 02: New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu speaks on stage prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 02, 2020 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) issued a statewide mask order, requiring individuals in groups of over 100 to wear face coverings.

Sununu issued a statewide mask mandate that affects large groups ahead of Laconia Motorcycle Week, which draws thousands to the state. Per Emergency Order #63, “face coverings shall be retired for all persons who attend or are otherwise present” at scheduled gatherings of 100 people or more. Those include “community, civic, public, private, leisure, faith based, political, or sporting events” as well as parades, festivals, conventions, fundraisers, and “similar activities.”

Requirements will not apply to “scheduled gatherings where attendees are seated and separated by at least 6 feet from any person,” with exceptions for those who are members of the same household or party. The order also exempts schools, although there are exceptions to that as well in terms of large school assemblies.

The order gives the Division of Public Health and police the authority to enforce the order. Sununu warned that there could be penalties for organizers that fail to adhere to the order.

He said:

You always want to work with individuals and businesses and gatherings on a one-to-one basis to make sure they understand what is expected as part of the guidance documents, but we will not hesitate to enforce penalties or fines to event organizers who willfully or dangerously disobey the rules we’ve put forth.

The Granite State governor also explained that the order was prompted, in part, by images from the recent Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, which showed large crowds and individuals not adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines:

“Sturgis was a real clear warning sign to us,” he said on Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone saw the photos out of Sturgis and said, ‘That looks safe.’ No, I think it just brought a second level of awareness to us on all these different matters.”

“We are really trying to stay proactive and ahead of the game heading into the fall season,” Sununu said.

While some local governments throughout the state have implemented sweeping mask orders, cases are on the decline in New Hampshire. The most recent available data shows the state reporting 6,861 cumulative cases of the virus and 419 related deaths. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, over half of the cases stem from long-term care facilities and health care workers.

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