CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu on Monday ordered hotels and other lodging facilities to provide rooms only for essential workers and vulnerable populations.
His 27th emergency order associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential for a strong financial impact in the Lakes Region, which depends on tourists. The order will remain in effect at least through May 4.
“You’re healthier in your own home and in your home state,” Sununu said. “We’ll welcome you back when this is over.”
He said that several days ago he would not have made this decision, but that he became concerned about large numbers of people coming here from other states. Sununu said some hoteliers in the North Country, where there have been few coronavirus cases, asked that he take this step.
Pandemic models suggest that New Hampshire may be approaching its peak time for infections.
“It will get rough in the next couple weeks,” Sununu said.
In his emergency order, he said that Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont have also restricted lodging providers to slow the spread of the virus.
The order also applies to motels, bed and breakfasts, inns and short-term rentals such as those made available through VRBO, Homeaway, AirBnb and other services. Campgrounds are exempt.
Vulnerable people who are allowed to stay in these facilities include children in emergency placements, people at risk of domestic violence, people experiencing homelessness, people needing emergency shelter and state residents who are self-isolating or self-quarantining.
Online reservations are to be suspended. Guests will be allowed to stay through the end of their scheduled stay.
Sununu announced the emergency order in a news conference in which he was joined by state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan.
Chan said that so far 715 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in New Hampshire, up 46 from Sunday’s figures. Nine people have died.
He said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have suggested non-medical face coverings for people who must go out into a space where they may come in close contact with others.
However, Chan stressed that such a mask generally provides protection for others, not the person wearing it. Social distancing, not touching one’s face, staying home whenever possible and practicing good hand hygiene are still the best recommendations, he said.