NH’s “mask mandate” is really just a strong suggestion

The anti-maskers will complain “Sununu has caved!”

The pro-mandate crowd will say “this is a toothless order, nowhere near good enough for the dire straits we are in!”

Your average Granite Stater will see the news and continue along with their day, doing what they’d been doing before.

The Executive Suggestion, errr, technically an Order, comes with nine loopholes: from people eating or doing strenuous exercise, to people who want to claim a medical reason they can’t wear a mask. No proof of that medical condition is required, and there are no fines for individuals not wearing a mask, other than in the cities which have passed their own mandates, which this EO does not affect. The order will expire on January 15, but of course may be renewed.

Private businesses can still be warned or fined for not complying with COVID-19 restrictions, which are generally more about distancing, making sure sick employees don’t come into the workplace, and requiring masks for employees interacting with the public, rather than requiring the business to enforce mask-wearing for their customers. Instances of fines or other penalties for businesses are more the exception than the rule in New Hampshire. According to the NH DOJ, only five violations—two just warnings and three with fines—have been issued to businesses for COVID-19 violations. https://www.doj.nh.gov/news/2020/20201118-eo-52-violations.htm

Quoting from the Executive Order…

This Order shall not apply to the following:
a) Educators, students, and staff within K-12 schools;
b) Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask or other face covering;
c) Any person consuming food or drink or sitting at a restaurant or table to eat or drink;
d) Any person engaged in physical strenuous physical activity;
e) Any person giving a religious, political, media, educational, cultural, musical, or theatrical
presentation or performance for an audience;
f) Any person who is deaf or hard of hearing, and any person while communicating with an
individual who is deaf or hard of hearing or who has a disability, medical condition, or
mental health condition that makes communication with that individual while wearing a mask
or face covering difficult;
g) Any person obtaining or providing a service that requires the temporary removal of a mask or face covering;
h) Any person asked to remove a mask or face covering to verify an identity for lawful
purposes; or
i) Any public safety worker actively engaged in a public safety role and when a mask or face
covering would seriously interfere in the performance of their public safety responsibilities.

NH’s COVID-19 resource page for businesses can be found here: https://www.nh.gov/covid19/resources-guidance/businesses.htm

The full text of this new Executive Order can be found here: https://www.governor.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt336/files/documents/emergency-order-74.pdf

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