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Hotel business improves as out-of-staters permitted

  • Jarvis Adams waters the plants at the Greenfield Inn on July 2. ABBE HAMILTON / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/7/2020 5:22:11 PM

Area hoteliers and B&B owners are seeing business again after COVID-19 emergency orders relaxed, but acknowledge they’re taking guests at their word as they conduct COVID-19 screenings with guests both in and out-of-state.

“I feel like we should have been deputized by the state,” Peterborough’s Jack Daniels Motor Inn owner Chris Lorimer said of the screening process. “It makes a lot of extra work. Every reservation is a special case,” he said. Every potential lodger must answer a series of questions before they can book a room in the inn, he said. Since June 5, that includes asking whether out-of-staters have quarantined for 14 days (last week, Gov. Chris Sununu lifted that restriction for visitors from the New England states). That mostly means taking people at their word, Lorimer said.0

“Some people have said, ‘No, there’s no way I can sign that,’ others say, ‘that’s basically what I’ve been doing,’ ” he said. Owners of hotels have no enforcement capability and have to be careful about what questions they ask in order to avoid breaching existing regulations about discrimination and privacy, he said.

The change in restrictions has brought back regular customers who are visiting family in the region, Lorimer said, although the inn has been housing first responders, medical professionals and essential workers throughout the pandemic.

The Monadnock Inn in Jaffrey has remained open and has been providing lodging for people in need of housing or a place to stay, innkeeper Dave Daniels said. The inn has been following all state guidance regarding dining and lodging precautions, but Daniels expressed frustration with the inconveniences, such as having servers wear masks on hot days, and questioned the efficacy of other recommendations.

“Personally I think it’s all hogwash,” he said. Daniels said he suspected that business remained slow due to a combination of state restrictions and patrons opting to stay home.

Jarvis Adams just purchased the Greenfield Inn in December, and said the loss of income from the pandemic forced him to put a number of projects on hold indefinitely.

“I was booked all the way out until October and saw all of them cancel,” he said. A couple people requested to use the inn as a place to quarantine after traveling abroad, he said, but nobody went through with it. Others have called in search of weekly or monthly rentals, sometimes saying they were literally living in their cars, Adams said. Although business was slow, he hesitated to adjust to longer term rentals.

“If stuff picks up tomorrow, I need those rooms,” he said. Reservations began to increase after out-of-staters were allowed to book, he said, but every guest so far has already been in the state for more than 14 days. A number of his guests have been using the B&B for a “staycation,” he said. Recently a couple bicycled down from Concord and back for their 21st wedding anniversary, he said.

The Seven Maples Campground in Hancock has been very busy, owner Kerry Christophers said. RV and tent sites are being booked at their regular capacities, and they’ve been able to offer kayak rentals and pool use, she said. Life jackets, paddles, and pool chairs and railings are sanitized between uses, she said. To keep up, they’ve implemented a wristband system so each guest has a designated window for pool use with a 15 minute allotment for cleaning afterward, she said. The campground’s playground remains off limit.

As usual, most campers have been Granite Staters, Christophers said, although she’s beginning to see out-of-staters who are happy for the opportunity to camp. All campers sign waivers stating they haven’t experienced any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and that they’ll notify the proprietors if they come down with it, she said.

“At the beginning, my attitude was that we could just power through and get this behind us as quickly as possible,” Lorimer said, but now he’s adjusted his expectations.

Some area B&B owners are high risk for the virus themselves and have remained closed, he said. Fairs, festivals, and concerts remain canceled and their associated tourists will be absent this year, he said, although he said he was looking out for effects associated with the state’s reopening of amusement parks and other attractions at the end of June.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.

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