Update on New Hampshire: Task force on reopening New Hampshire’s economy approved recommendations related to bingo, basketball, and allowing driving instructors back behind the wheel

A masked mannequin hangs from a placard at Crosby’s Bakery in Nashua, N.H., Wednesday, May 27, 2020. People are required to wear face coverings when entering any business under an ordinance passed in Nashua following the COVID-19 virus outbreak. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The task force on reopening New Hampshire’s economy approved recommendations Wednesday related to bingo, basketball and allowing driving instructors back behind the wheel.

The proposed rules for charitable gaming includes limiting the number of seats at tables set up for poker, blackjack and other games as well as reductions in overall occupancy. Players would not be required to wear masks, but it would be highly recommended.

At indoor facilities for sports including hockey, basketball, soccer and tennis, face coverings would be recommended for staff, players or guests coming within 3 feet of each other. Team or group sizes would be limited to 10 people, including coaches.

The driver’s education rules call for continuing with online classes. Both drivers and students would be required to wear masks while on the road, and cars would be cleaned between sessions.

None of the approved recommendations set target dates for reopening. They’ll next be considered by public health officials and Gov. Chris Sununu.

The task force also heard from Ben Blunt of Concord Coach Lines, who described what bus companies would implement when they resume service, with a possible target date of early August. Keeping passengers 6 feet apart would mean dropping capacity to about 12 people, he said. Officials have discussed mandatory face coverings for both employees and passengers and are looking into air filtration systems and methods of disinfecting buses between trips.

Service shut down in March after several passengers on a bus between Concord and Boston tested positive for the virus. While companies already collect names of passengers, they may start collecting phone numbers or email addresses as well to help with contact tracing if necessary, he said.

Other coronavirus-related developments in New Hampshire:

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An inmate transferred to New Hampshire from another state has tested positive for the coronavirus, a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The department had placed the man in a health services observation room for a 14-day quarantine after the facility that sent him noted that it had positive cases of COVID-19. On Tuesday, medical staff were informed that the coronavirus test was confirmed positive.

The man will remain in medical isolation until he tests negative twice for the virus. He has had no contact with other inmates. Staff who were in contact with him wore personal protective equipment before contact.

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PETITIONS:

New Hampshire courts are now accepting online requests for restraining orders after the number of domestic violence and stalking petitions dropped during the coronavirus petition.

Court officials say the new system will provide a safe way for victims to seek protection without going to a courthouse. Domestic violence petitions decreased by 21% in March and April compared to the same time last year, and stalking petitions dropped 30%.

Those wishing to file requests can contact a crisis center or family justice center to obtain the appropriate online forms.

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THE NUMBERS

As of Wednesday, 4,286 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 56 from the previous day. Nine new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 223.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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Source: Associated Press – HOLLY RAMER