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New Hampshire restaurants allowed to open at full capacity with some coronavirus restrictions

Gov. Chris Sununu said restaurants can resume indoor dining at full capacity. The four southernmost counties had been restricted to 50% because of coronavirus cases
Credit: NCM

NEW HAMPSHIRE, USA — Effective immediately, restaurants in New Hampshire will be allowed to operate at full capacity for indoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Chris Sununu announced Friday.

During a news conference, the governor said tables will still be required to be six feet apart, and all COVID-19 public health guidelines will remain in effect.

"You're in a bar or a restaurant, there's no standing at the bar or congregating. You have to maintain those distances," Sununu said. "It's something we've worked very closely with — the restaurant owners and managers in ensuring they understand those guidance protocols."

The governor said changing the capacity limit allows restaurants to prepare for colder months.

"We did look at 75%," Sununu said. "We had no major outbreaks. So it made sense to go to 100%."

The governor could not say whether the capacity limit would impact weddings.

There were no new deaths and 24 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus reported Friday, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. There are now 7,071 cases of the virus statewide while the death toll remains at 428.

"The COVID numbers continue to look good," state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said during Friday's news conference. "COVID-19 is still out there even though community transmission is low."

Friday's news conference comes the day before Laconia Motorcycle Week kicks off.

Attendance at the annual event, which runs Aug. 22 through Aug. 30, is expected to be lower due to measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Union Leader reports.

In addition to increased police presence, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission will also be enforcing COVID-19 compliance with all 65 establishments within Laconia that are permitted to sell alcohol.

Sununu reiterated the rules on Friday and urged bikers to take the event seriously and if they are sick, to stay home.

"We just want to make sure that it goes off successfully," Sununu said.