Virus Outbreak New Hampshire

Operations manager Ryan DeMaria (center) gestures during a meeting June 18, 2020, at the main admission gate at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire. The amusement park plans to reopen July 16 with capacity limitations and safety precautions for guests and workers as a some of the state restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak are lifted.

(The Center Square) – A New Hampshire employment official is optimistic that nearly 90 percent of the state’s economy is now open and working, and the Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force plans to help other struggling businesses reopen as the nation approaches 100 days since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Richard Lavers, deputy employment security commissioner, recently told the Task Force that initial unemployment claims figures are declining and holding steady. He added that they are the best indication of how the state economy is faring.

For the past two weeks, there have been approximately 6,300 weekly jobless claims filed, which is a significant decrease from the peak of 40,000 weekly claims filed back in early April.

Although Lavers found that about 90 percent of the state’s workforce is actually working, industries in the accommodations sector of the economy have been struggling to get people back to work, even as hotels were allowed to reopen June 5.

“It will take a while for people to be comfortable to make travel plans,” Steve Duprey, who owns four hotels in Concord, recently told the New Hampshire Business Review.

Clothing stores and retailers have seen the largest employment gains since they were allowed to reopen on May 11, from 49 percent employment to nearly 80 percent now.

The stay-at-home order was lifted this week, and restaurants in certain counties were allowed to do 50 percent capacity indoor seating, which will hopefully help increase employment past 73 percent.

But John Nyhan, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, told the Task Force some restaurant workers may be reluctant to go back to work and give up their $600 a week plus state benefits, which will end July 31.

On Thursday, the Task Force finally released its reopening guidelines for the entertainment sector, which includes movie theaters, amusement parks, adult day cares, and art venues.

Starting June 29, movie theaters will be allowed to seat guests as long as they are spaced six feet apart. Similarly, amusement parks will be allowed to admit 25 percent of their maximum capacities, and guests must purchase online tickets in advance. Performing art venues, adult day cares, and art and music education centers will all be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity.