Monday was a big day for many New Hampshire businesses, as the state’s stay-at-home order “2.0” allowed for the reopening — with precautions — of retail stores, hair salons and dentists. Golf courses and drive-ins were also allowed to reopen, but have, generally, less close contact between customers and staff.
Gov. Chris Sununu’s order allowing for the reopenings strikes a strong note of caution, and necessarily so. The revamped order calls for businesses reopening to follow state and federal guidelines to protect the health and safety of staff and customers alike. That includes the CDC’s recommendations to:
Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use disinfectant. Note high-touch surfaces include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.
Use a diluted bleach solution or an EPA-registered household disinfectant on surfaces, following the instructions on the label.
Frequently launder soft surfaces such as clothing, towels, tablecloths, carpeted floor, rugs and drapes.
There’s more at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html
The state adds its own mandates in the order, found at www.governor.nh.gov/news-media/stay-at-home/index.htm. Its retail rules include:
All staff must wear cloth face coverings at all times in the facility, in public or in shared staff areas.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer must be made readily available for both staff and consumers at entrances and exits, at checkout and in staff breakrooms.
Businesses must provide regular updates and training for employees about proper safeguards.
Staff should be instructed to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others (staff and customers) at all times.
Restricting interaction between employees and outside visitors or delivery drivers; implementing touchless ordering, payment and receiving practices if possible.
Limiting the number of customers inside a store at a given time, excluding workers, to 50 percent or less of store occupancy.
Customers should wear cloth face coverings at all times when inside the store. Signage and staff should request this before customers enter the store.
Consider dedicated shopping hours or appointment times for the elderly and medically vulnerable persons.
If feasible and reasonable, establish one-way aisles and traffic patterns for social distancing.
Assign dedicated staff to monitor social distancing and compliance with protective actions.
Rules for dental and beauty offices are more stringent, given how closely staff must work with clients. And in such situations, it’s worth noting some of the commonsense precautions, such as wearing masks and/or other protective gear, are either inconvenient or impossible. In those cases, adhering even more stringently to safety measures such as disinfecting areas between appointments is necessary.
All of these are orders from the governor, not suggestions. However, Sununu also made clear the state won’t be making much of an effort, if any, to see that businesses are complying. That’s par for the course for New Hampshire, and it leaves the safety of the public — and the future of the state’s economy — in the hands of business managers, employees and customers.
For all, the only necessary incentive ought to be protecting the health of themselves and others. But that’s not how life works. Some people are just dopes, or misinformed, or simply dangerously inconsiderate of others, and will conclude that if businesses are open, it means everything is fine and they can do what they want.
Business owners and managers have an additional incentive. As bad as this pandemic has been for their bottom line, having the virus rebound and become even more widespread due to ignored safety precautions would be far worse. They are, effectively, their own regulators on this. And they must weigh the benefit of some inconvenience and expense against the prospect of a more widespread pandemic, and longer closures, down the road.