No COVID cases from in-person House session

  • Legislators stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during a New Hampshire House of Representatives legislative session held at NH Sportsplex, due to the coronavirus, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Bedford, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Legislators stand for a moment of silence in honor of former House Speaker Richard Hinch during a New Hampshire House of Representatives session on Feb. 24, 2021, in Bedford. Charles Krupa /AP

  • Democratic House minority leader Renny Cushing, right, holds up a protective suit prior to a New Hampshire House of Representatives legislative session held at an indoor sports club, due to the coronavirus, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Bedford, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

Associated Press
Published: 3/11/2021 2:20:03 PM

There have been no reported COVID-19 cases from two in-person House sessions held last month, New Hampshire House Speaker Sherman Packard said.

“Careful and cautious management has led to good results, and that’s exactly what we have done with the legislature,” Packard said in a statement Thursday. “We can lead in a responsible way, and we are getting our business done in a responsible way.”

Seven Democratic lawmakers sued Packard, a Republican, last month, arguing that holding in-person sessions without a remote option violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the state and federal constitutions, and forces them to either risk their lives or abandon their duties as elected officials.

They sought a preliminary order requiring remote access, but a federal judge denied their request. The Democrats have filed a notice of appeal to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the 400-member House has met several times at the University of New Hampshire ice arena, outside on a UNH athletic field, and — after former Speaker Dick Hinch died of COVID-19 — from their cars in a parking lot. They met last month in a Bedford sports complex.

Reopening guidance

The Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force recommended updated coronavirus-related guidance Thursday on performance arts venues, amusement parks and tourist trains.

Seating capacity at performance venues would allow at least 3 feet of distancing between associated groups, on the condition they wear masks. Audience members would not be able to face one another. Performers also would not be able to interact directly with the audience or go offstage unless a 3-foot distance could be maintained from audience members.

Game equipment, rafts, and tubes at amusement parks would have to be cleaned and disinfected between each use, and rides would have to be cleaned and disinfected at least every few hours and at the end of each shift.

On tourist trains, seating assignments would provide 6 feet of distancing within passenger cars, when possible, according to the recommended guidance. Family members and related parties could be seated together. Passengers would be required to wear cloth face coverings, except while consuming food or drinks, unless they are in compartmentalized seating.

The task force indicated it would address updated guidance for large outdoor performing arts venues soon.

All guidance is reviewed by the state Division of Public Health Services before it goes to Gov. Chris Sununu for his decision.




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